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Full text of "Stella and an unfinished communication; studies of the unseen"

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STELLA 

AND 

AN UNFINISHED COMMUNICATION 



STELLA 

AND 

AN UNFINISHED COMMUNICATION 
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C. H. HINTON, B.A 

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SWAN SONNENSCHEIN & CO 

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PREFACE 

In the following pages an attempt has been made to 
dwell upon the wider bearing of conceptions which, 
whatever their origin, have found more definite ex- 
pression in the speculations of modern mathema- 
ticians than at any other time. , 

One line, one feature, of the landscape of the land 
to which these thoughts lead, and only one, has 
been touched upon. But there are many, and each 
explorer would probably select a different one. 

In that respect this age is a happy one ; for all 
doubt, all disputation, about the Higher World can 
be discarded — there is scope for all our energy in 
obtaining the necessary faculties of perception. Just 
as the study of the minute or the very large requires 
microscopes, telescopes, and other apparatus, so for 
the study of the Higher World we need to form 
within our minds the instrument of observation, the 
intuition of higher space, the perception of higher 
matter. Armed thus, we press on into that path 
wherein all that is higher is more real, hoping to 
elucidate the dark sayings of bright faith. 



STELLA 



CHAPTER I 

INTRODUCTORY 

I DO not imagine that I can do better than tell you 
the story of Churton's experiences at Beechwood 
Hall in his own words. There has been nothing 
analogous in my range of observation, and I shall not 
attempt to add any commentary of my own, or to 
improve the manner of his telling. I will simply put 
down in his own words, as nearly as I can recollect it, 
what he told me that afternoon, when we met again 
and renewed an old intimacy — interrupted for over 
seven years. 

If you wish to omit the few details I can give you 
as to our life at the crammer's at Blackheath, and 
the origin of the friendship between Frank Cornish 
and Steddy Churton, you can plunge into the next 
chapter, in which I am reporter merely. 

Here, however, I can tell you what manner of man 
Churton was before the sobering and refining influ- 
ences he tells of acted on him. I can point out the 
defects of his character and record how those two, 
Cornish and he, in the shipwreck of their early 
opportunities, brought to shore their friendship 
merely. 

What interested us all the most, in those Black- 
heath days, was London life — and a very worthless 

^ B 



2 Stella 

and corrupt side of London life. We never talked 
of any subject which could be set in an examination 
paper — and how few branches of learning are exempt ! 
Our French lecturer found that we got a slightly better 
percentage of marks on Zola than on other authors, 
and accordingly we all read Zola — it stuck in our 
minds better. 

Hugh Stedman Churton we called Steddy, short 
for Stedman, and felt a slight sense of amusement 
in doing so, as he got into more rows than any of us ; 
and yet we felt the name was somehow justified. He 
had true parental encouragement for his propensities. 
He wore an old silver watch. One day, when 
I was chaffing him about the '^ turnip," he told me 
that his aunt sent him a gold watch when he was 
fourteen ; but that same evening he put it on his 
father's dressing-table with a note asking him to send 
it back. 

" I used to go about with another little chap," he 
said, " and we used to fight the louts together ; that 
day I was afraid of getting the watch smashed, so I 
let the other fellow go alone, and he got badly hurt. 
The governor and I haven't much to say to each other, 
but we understand each other. Next morning, as I was 
getting up, he brought this old watch and gave it to 
me. * You needn't stand out of anything with this,' 
he said, * I wore it in India.' " 

And Churton did not often stand out of things ; 
according to his philosophy there was not much good 
in going into them, but you felt worse afterwards if 
you didn't. 

" The luckiest thing that ever happened to me in 
my life," said Churton to me that afternoon, " was 



Stella 3 

getting acquainted with Jim." Jim was one of that 
numerous tribe of pugilists who have not quite grit 
enough for the profession, but earn their living as bar 
tenders and chuckers-out in the service of publicans. 
Churton was walking along Vine Street one night 
and saw Jim tugging at the arm of a drunken woman. 
Her body had got caught in the spring door, and he 
was pulling at her arm as if it had been a piece of 
rope. Churton knocked the man down, but he was 
up again in a moment. A crowd formed round them, 
it seemed a pretty even affair, when suddenly Jim 
said, " Beg pardon, sir, I was only doing what I was 
paid for ; step inside if you don't want to get me 
into trouble." 

Churton saw the crowd parting and a blue helmet 
appearing, so he slipped into the bar-room. He had to 
come back that night, as he was not exactly a present- 
able object, but he kept up the acquaintanceship with 
Jim, and used to make a point of taking him round 
to Morris's rooms for an hour's sparring, when he was 
up in town. 

You must not imagine that Churton had been 
persuaded, as so many are, by ladies young or old, 
to look upon himself as possessing a chivalrous nature. 
They had no chance to influence him in any way, 
for he avoided their society with complete success. 
" They make a man good for nothing," he would say, 
if any friend of his showed symptoms of the weakness 
of succumbing to drawing-room fascinations. 

We met Frank Cornish first at Doctor Forsyth's. 
We read of painters, philosophers^ doctors, in olden 
times as surrounded by a band of pupils, who, by 
contact with the great man, picked up his skill and 



4 Stella 

method. Such companionship is a natural desire of 
youth the whole world over. I heard a Hindoo lad beg 
his professor to let him be his servant, that he might 
hear his scientific talk and witness his scientific actions. 
But the rush of modern life does not allow a man of 
eminence to waste his time in educating others. Some 
of them, however, have the disposition to collect young 
men about them. Doctor Forsyth was of this kind ; he 
was a distant connection of Churton's, and Churton 
took me there. It strikes me that men who talk a 
good deal resemble one another very much in all ages. 
There is a mass of common knowledge, universally 
shared ideas, which require to be remodelled and 
rediscussed for every generation ; and the talkers do 
not so much say anything original as go over this 
common stock, restating it in accordance with the 
tendencies and views of their generation — each new 
fact slightly altering all. The doctor would run 
on, the whole evening, we making an observation 
occasionally, and as we went away would sometimes 
charmingly apologise for having " led the conversa- 
tion." 

" Opinions," he said one evening, " opinions — men 
used to be born with them like their noses ; to see a 
man change his opinions gave our forefathers the 
same feelings that it does us to see a lizard drop off 
his tail." 

" What has led to the change ? " 

"We are younger; I mean that those qualities 
which are characteristic of childhood, curiosity and 
meddlesomeness, do not die out in us at so early an 
age as they used to ; that gives rise to a good deal of 
science ; a singularly grave person the young Greek or 



Stella 5 

Roman used to be. But we owe a great deal to 
impostors and swindlers ; they find a way of getting 
round people of fixed opinions." 

" Then we ought to be grateful to them ? " 

" Are we not ? Those who try old tricks and 
antiquated swindles we put in prison, but those who 
supply the needs of the time, who engineer away our 
present stupidity, we reward liberally. The decep- 
tions which have done their work seem singularly 
pointless. For instance, there was a prescription for a 
remedy for the bite of a mad dog, which was sold for 
a hundred pounds — a large sum fifty years ago. The 
materials were secret, of course, but they were pub- 
lished by the last owner of the remedy for the good 
of the public. There were various ingredients, but 
the most important one was a portion of the brain of 
the dog that had inflicted the wound. The inventor 
of that specific deserved well of the community." 

" I suppose," said Cornish, " that every case in which 
the dog was not really mad counted as a cure ? " 

" Exactly ; there was no denying it : the dog was 
dead. Nature does not put her problems to us in so 
pointed a way — ^it is the impostors who make us 
think — theirs is the credit" 

" You would not do such a thing yourself, doctor," 
said a well-intentioned youth, who had found his 
way into our company ; and then seeing that his 
remark hung fire, he added, '' Isn't the improvement 
in education the great means ? — the old parrot fashion 
of learning has gone out" 

'' This congratulating ourselves that we are not as 
the animals," said the doctor, " is very gratifying, but I 
doubt if we gain the kingdom of heaven by it I 



6 Stella 

studied my bird, * Dickie,' here, as he was learning 
to talk, and it is my opinion that a {>arrot learns to 
talk exactly as a child does. Imitation, mere 
imitation, plays a large part in the acquisition of any 
power. A child learns that he is living by imitating 
living beings ; he learns he is a person by imitating 
persons; he learns that he can think by imitating 
those who do think. And this is the secret of the 
influence that is often exercised between older people ; 
one man unconsciously imitates another, and finds in 
himself faculties he had not been aware of before. 
Trace it out and you will find that many a friendship 
has its origin in this way," 

Of those at the table Churton and Frank Cornish 
presented the greatest contrast, and the doctor's words 
recurred to me afterwards with regard to them. 
Frank was slightly built, with delicately cut features 
and a look of remarkable intelligence, but his eyes 
moved restlessly, his temperament was nervously 
unsettled, he had a constant craving for stimulus from 
without. 

Churton's eyes^ if he looked at you at all, gave you a 
very different impression. His nose stood out a 
prominent object to an adversary in battle ; there 
was a hard trained, almost ascetic look about his face, 
such as the rougher games give to their devotees. 
But he had nothing ascetic in his conversation or 
manners. Unlike Cornish, he had a great faculty 
for doing nothing ; he would spend a whole morning 
over a novel ; the craving for excitement was quite 
absent in him. 

The two men from that day took every opportunity 
of meeting, or rather, I should say, Cornish let no 



Sulla 7 

occasion pass on which he could meet Churton. He 
always joined us on Saturday when we came up for 
our Sunday in town, went with us to the theatre, 
and accompanied us to all our haunts. 

I asked Churton one day about him. I had heard 
he was one of the best men of his year, and wanted 
to know Churton's opinion — "Yes, he's a clever fellow, 
but liquors up too much." 

If there was something in the one of these two 
men which the other had not, and sought the other's 
company to awaken in himself, it was not Cornish's 
intellectual brilliancy, but that latent quality in Chur- 
ton which made us call him Steddy. 

One day, about six months later, a telegram came 
from Mrs. Cornish — " Frank is very ill, he is always 
asking for you. Pray come ! " "I suppose," said 
Churton, '' that Mrs. Cornish thinks I am a doctor ! — 
she has never seen me. I'll run up for an hour." 

He found Frank lying on his bed, struggling, three 
men there to hold him down. It was a case of D.T. 
Poor Mrs. Cornish was almost distracted ; it seemed 
as if her boy's violent struggles would wear his life out. 

" Mr. Churton, perhaps he will be quiet with you ; 
do try." 

He sat down by the bedside. Frank seemed to 
recognise him. Taking his hand, h^ signed to the 
men to go out of the room. 

"Save me, Steddy," gasped Frank, and crept up 
the bed towards him. " All right, Frank," he said ; 
" keep close to me." 

So Frank crept out of bed and huddled up on 
Churton's knees like a baby. The sound of his voice 
soothed him. Churton kept talking to him, telling 



8 Stella 

him anything he could think of, but he could not 
keep quiet a minute without the paroxysms threaten- 
ing to return. He talked to him of his chances in 
the examination, of the rest of us, and then told him 
one after another the coarse jokes and tales better 
left untold, that were the staple of our conversation 
— but I suppose, if Mrs. Cornish was listening out- 
side, she scarce distinguished them from prayers. 

In a few weeks Frank seemed to have recovered 
perfectly. He refused to make any difference in his 
way of living. During that year Churton saw a good 
deal of him, till the exigencies of the approaching 
Civil Service Examination demanded all his time. 

On the morning of the fourth day of the examina- 
tion Churton was breakfasting with his father, who 
happened to be in town. The two were much alike, 
characterized like many Englishmen by a disinclina- 
tion for a life of study amounting to incapacity. 
They were the kind of men who have the habit of 
being elected captains of their football or cricket 
teams when young, and of being people to be con- 
sidered afterwards, but of a mental disposition which 
makes it an episode of a decidedly healthy tendency 
for them to attempt to be selected for administrative 
posts by competitive examination. 

The natives of India look on our ascendency with 
a dumb resignation to the designs of an inscrutable 
providence, which so often lets rude force hold sway 
over all the gentler virtues. In the mining company 
with which I became connected when the government 
took the opportunity of the fall in the value of silver 
to break faith with their servants, there are numbers 
of native employes, excellent men, most admirable 



Stella 9 

J in every private relationship; but they all occupy 

subordinate positions. We have to put over them 
some low-lived, swearing Englishmen, with one-tenth 
of their mental ability, if we want the work done. 

There is something the Hindoos lack and which 
Churton possessed in abundance. But his chances of 
passing the examination were poor at the best. 

As he sat with his father at breakfast a telegram, 
forwarded from Blackheath, was handed to him. He 
read it, crumpled it up, and went on with his chop. 

« What is that ? " 

He handed it to his father. 

" Frank is terribly ill," it ran ; " the doctors have 
given him up ; try to 3ave him again." 

Churton explained the nature of the attack, and 
told about the previous one. 

** Do you think you could save him ? ** 

" I ejcpect if s all up this time." 

The old gentleman was silent, recalling bygone 
memories ; evidently some past episodes moved him 
deeply. 

" Waiter," he said, " a hansom." 

" Think of all the money you have spent on me, 
and it's my last shot." 

The cab came, and as Steddy got into it the old 
gentleman replied, ** I don't believe you'd pass." 

I cannot believe that Frank Cornish had been 
drinking steadily, as the doctor said, for the past 
year. He had passed his M.D. examination brilliantly. 
After it, according to my idea, a nervous reaction had 
left him a prey to his old craving. However that 
might be, his condition was terrible. Churton's 
presence for many hours produced no effect, but at 



10 SuUa 

length the paroxysms subsided of themselves, or the 
old spell made itself felt 

It was a long and dangerous illness, but Frank 
gradually recovered. Mrs. Cornish's gratitude knew 
no bounds. She looked on Churton as a son of her 
own, and, what amused us very much, she formed the 
most exalted opinion of his capacities. She would 
hear of no word of doubt as to his ability to pass the 
Civil Service or any other examination. Frank she 
referred to in comparison as a mere specialist 

The description had something of justice, for Frank 
very wisely decided that he was not fitted for the 
strain of general practice. He took up 'the purely 
scientific side of the profession, and finally went to 
Vienna to prosecute his researches on Tuberculosis. 

Churton read for the bar — which is supposed to 
open the way to so many appointments. He had the 
prospect of a post in the Chinese customs, in which 
Sir Richard Part, an old friend of his father's, occupied 
a prominent position. 

When Mrs. Cornish's brother died, it was natural 
that she fixed on Churton to take Frank's place as 
executor. Mr. Michael Graham had not employed 
any man of business to transact his aflairs, and there 
was much to be done. In addition, there were several 
curious provisions in the will. One related to the 
house at Beechwood, in Yorkshire, which was to be 
left unoccupied in charge of his servant. Another 
related to a mass of writings, the work of his later 
years, which he directed should be examined by 
Frank with a view to publication. 

Mr. Graham had succeeded to his father's estates, 
but an early disappointment — an unhappy love 
affair, as Mrs. Cornish intimated — had unsettled him, 



SteUa 1 1 

and he spent many years on the continent. When 
he returned, he saw but little of any of the members 
of his family, and the last ten years of his life were 
spent in almost unbroken seclusion. 

It was arranged that Mrs. Cornish^ her son, and 
Churton, should go to Beechwood together. But on 
the appointed day Mrs. Cornish wrote to say that 
Frank's conduct had made her too ill to travel. En- 
closed was a letter from Frank which explained her 
remark. He wrote that a patient had just died under 
a complication of disorders he might never have the 
opportunity of examining again. He was sure Chur- 
ton would manage much better alone. The only 
practical suggestion he made was that the horses 
and dogs should be given to the neighbours, such, 
that is, as Churton did not care to keep for himself. 

" Frank," Mrs. Cornish complained, " does not care 
for anything that is not small enough to go under a 
microscope." 

So Churton started for Beechwood by himself. 

Shortly after this date I left England. On my 
return seven years later, I received a warm invitation 
from Churton to visit him at his father's place in 
Lancashire. We are neither of us in the habit of 
writing unnecessary letters, and so I had but a frag- 
mentary knowledge of what had befallen him. We 
fell back, however, into our old intimacy as naturally 
as if nothing had interrupted it. 

It was on the day of my arrival, and before I had 
entered the house, that, sitting under the great elms 
in the garden, Churton told me the following episodes 
in all their details, reinforcing his memory at one 
point in his narration by reference to a sheet or two 
of closely written paper. 



CHAPTER II 
churton's narrative 

After leaving the train at a small wayside station 
there were five miles of road between me and Beech- 
wood. 

The dogcart from the inn was soon ready, and for 
an hour we followed a winding road amongst the 
moors, the country becoming at every mile more 
barren and more bold in its outlines. 

The sun was setting when the driver pointed tp a 
little village at our feet, and thence to a hill beyond, 
on the brow of which, amongst some trees, I dis- 
tinguished the outlines of a house — that was Beech- 
wood. Behind it the moor stretched up and away. 

The pile stood dark and forbidding, but coming 
round to the front of the house, which faced away 
from the village below, a great flood of light streamed 
out from the open door. Instead of the gloomy and 
solitary impression I had expected on entering this 
house, vacated by death, there was an atmosphere of 
homelike welcome. There were flowers in the vases, 
and through an open door I saw a table spread for a 
number of guests. Parker, Michael Graham's man, 
took me to my room, and then I heard him go to the 
front door, say a few words to the driver, and the 
noise of the wheels died away in the night. 

Coming downstairs I found a large reception room 

IS 



Stella 13 

brilliantly lighted, but there was no one in it. I 
crossed to the dining-room. Its only occupant was 
Parker, who asked me when I would dine. 

'' Immediately/' I said, and sat down in an easy 
chair. 

The whole of one wall was taken up by a book- 
shelf; on the other wall the sideboards were built 
into the wainscoting. At one end was a large vase, 
at the other between the windows was a small table, 
on which rested a single book bound in dark leather. 

In the course of the meal Parker addressed me 
as Mr. Cornish. I told him who I was, and learnt 
that he had not received word of the change of plans. 
He had expected Mrs. Cornish and Mr. Cornish as 
well as myself. " No," I said, " they are not coming." 
. At that moment the door, which was almost closed, 
swung partially open. Immediately afterwards a 
great mastiff which was lying on the hearthrug got 
up, deliberately crossed die room, and went out I 
noticed that the door swung open before the dog 
moved. It was as if some one from outside had 
opened the door and called him, and yet I heard no 
voice. 

After dinner I looked at the books. They were 
mostly scientific works, not only modem ones, but 
old Greek and Latin texts, with here and there a case 
of manuscripts, in what seemed to me Arabic charac- 
ters. On the walls were a few fine engravings. There 
were no photographs. The only object possessing 
any personal interest was the book on the window 
table. It looked large, owing to its heavy binding, 
but contained only about a hundred pages. These 
were filled with writing, childish at the beginning, but 



14 Stella 

developing afterwards into a singularly delicate and 
very legible hand. On the title-page was written, 
'' Michael Graham, copied by Stella." 

I opened it at random. There were passages of 
greater and less interest, obviously extracts from 
longer works of portions more or less complete in 
themselves. 

On one page I read : — 

" When we seek the secret of existence with the 
intellect, we do but pursue a phantom, vanishing be- 
yond countless corridors. Never do we arrive at any 
ultimate, but each finality in turn proves to be 
dependent on that which is beyond, and this beyond 
itself revolves away. 

'' Being cannot be grasped by the intellect. And 
yet it can be known, for when we love we truly are, 
and love is being in and for another. Hence, neces- 
sarily, existence appears as an endlessly linked-on 
series of phenomena, in which there is no first nor 
last Such is the outward garb which is all the 
universe presents to thought — it is the heart which 
truly knows." 

" A curious turn," I thought, ** to give to a painful 
certainty. We all know we can know nothing, but 
to take this fact that we can know nothing and prove 
from it what the universe really is, is a little too 
original." 

A good many pages further on was written:— 
" Compare the work of the sculptor and^that of the 
painter. The sculptor makes an object resembling 
much more that which . he represents than does a 
painter. 

"But the painter has a greater scope. In the 



Stella 15 

thinness of his medium lies his greater power; in 
the remoteness of his representation from the thing 
represented he gains his power of wide pourtrayal. 
And Thought is an art, a representation of the world 
in mind-stuff, in ideas of space, motion, matter. To 
say the world is made of space, motion, matter, is as 
absurd as to say that it is made of paint 

" The more tliat can be represented in any medium 
the less that medium resembles the things represented, 
and thought which pictures all reality uses a medium 
which is most unreal Its power lies in the nothing- 
ness of its means." 

So ran the extract — the error was perfectly obvious. 
The painter, however slight a coat of paint he uses, 
still uses something real, and so in thinking we 
shouldn't get anywhere if we didn't use realities. 
Thinking reaches farthest because it investigates the 
fundamental realities. Every one knows that the 
world is made of matter, is shaped in space, and 
moves by motion. Towards the end of the book I 
read : — 

"The body and the moral sense are intimately 
connected. A Habit is morality of some kind become 
bodily. A lack of recognition of this fact is the 
source of the futility of our efforts in education. In 
its earliest movements, a child incorporates, in its 
very constitution, tendencies which we afterwards, 
alas ! and rightly then, recognise as a part of its nature, 
which it may learn to restrain, from which it can 
never escape. Think of a little girl, almost from the 
time when she can first see, creeping up to a glass 
and looking at herself, decking herself with a ribbon 
or a string of beads. We allow this thinking about 



1 6 SteUa 

self, this vanity, to become incorporate in the female 
child ; all subsequent education simply leads it to 
disguise itself, we can never eradicate it." 

I closed the book, pitying the poor child who had 
been employed posting up the ledger of a bankrupt 
philosophy, when she might have been playing tennis 
or dancing. 



The breakfast table next morning was decorated 
with flowers, showing a taste in arrangement which I 
had hardly expected from Parker, with his indirect 
glance and painfully correct manner, or from his wife, 
a subdued looking woman, who seemed to live in 
considerable awe of her husband. There was a 
fancifulness and grace in the disposition of the half- 
opened rose buds which was unlike the work of a 
domestic. 

The table was laid for two. '' Does the man intend 
to sit down with me ? ' I thought. When he appeared 
I told him to take away the other plates. He seemed 
about to speak, then, after a moment's hesitation, re- 
moved the dishes, and took away a chair which was 
opposite to mine on the other side of the table. 

The centre of the house was occupied by the 
offices, and the two rooms I mentioned before. The 
right wing, the part which lay on the left as I came 
up from the valley, was taken up by a series of rooms 
fitted up as laboratories. The apparatus was in good 
order. There were many instruments with the use of 
which I was not acquainted. Whatever Michael 
Graham had required for the prosecution of his re<* 



Stella 17 

searches — apparently in the border land between 
chemistry and physics — he had obtained regardless 
of expense. One of the finest spectroscopes t had 
ever seen was there. In the study were piles of 
manuscript neatly ticketed, arranged in formidable 
heaps — a distressing sight 

The other wing was shut off by a door covered 
with green baize. On approaching it Parker told me 
that it was locked. In a couple of minutes he 
returned with the key. 

This part of the house was quite unlike the other, 
with its wainscotted walls and dark hangings. There 
was a light paper, my feet sunk in the soft carpet, 
and the windows of the passage were draped with a 
light Indian fabric. Opening one of the doors, I 
found myself on the threshold of a lady's boudoir, 
daintily furnished. 

** Are all the rooms furnished in this style ? " 
I asked. 

" Yes, sir." 

" Very well, you can keep the door locked. Mrs. 
Cornish will see to it when she comes." 

I retraced my steps and sat down in the study 
before the table spread with account books and 
memoranda. 

Michael Graham might have found a real Egeria to 
inspire him, and Egerias now-a-days need art, not 
nature, to decorate their habitations — perhaps he 
made that fitting frame for loveliness, brooding in 
his solitary life on what might have been. Twas no 
concern of mine, this page in the history of an old 
man's heart, it was for others to unfold, not for me. 

It was evident that it would take some time to put 

c 



1 8 Stella 

the accounts before me into an intelligible form. 
Michael Graham, though methodical, had used no 
recognised system, and he had jotted down the items 
of his expenditure in an almost illegible handwriting, 
as if he had grudged the time. His property was 
large. Of accumulations, which in his way of life 
must have been considerable, I could find no trace, 
but large payments for some unexplained purpose 
were from time to time recorded. 

My eyes caught a slight bareness in the carpet, as 
if worn by constant steps, and following it I saw a 
door which had escaped my notice before, hidden in 
the shadow of a bookcase. Opening it I was in the 
full sunlight. The trees were swaying in the breeze 
•beyond, but this secluded spot was still, retired 
from the world, and solitary, an ideal spot for con- 
templation. A well-worn path led to an arbour 
overgrown with clematis, beyond was a dense under- 
growth shutting in the little region like a wall. 

Standing there a sound fell on my ears which sur- 
prised me. A faint and momentary sound gives but 
little indication of direction, yet I thought some one 
was in the arbour, sobbing. 

I walked along the path and looked in. There 
was no one there. The furniture of the little summer- 
house consisted of a table, an arm-chair, a bench, and 
a smaller chair. 

The sound I heard, or fancied I heard, was not 
repeated ; there was nothing save the noise of the 
branches of the sheltering trees swaying in the wind. 
Probably some child wandering up from the village 
was lost in the shrubbery ; yet there had been some- 
thing so expressive of helpless abandonment in the 



Stella 19 

sound I had heard that I waited a long time before 
dismissing the matter from my attention. As nothing 
occurred, I lit my pipe. 

The days passed on : there were no distractions, yet 
I found myself perfectly contented. The place had a 
charm of its own, and I was perfectly satisfied to sit 
some hours every day over Michael Graham's crabbed 
writing, to take a walk over the moors, to lounge in 
the garden, and to make friends with the dogs. 

The stables were a quarter of a mile off, and the 
horses were too old to be of any account, but the dogs 
were first-rate animals. 

The one thing I can do is to manage dogs. If you 
are not afraid of them they know it, and give in to 
you at once, and I am not afraid of anything with a 
doggy face. They have not got any teeth at the 
back of their mouths, and if one flies at you, all you 
have to do is to put your hand right into his mouth ; 
a strong man can break his jaw. 

One great mastiff was my special favourite : he 
had two white bands on the black marking of his 
breast, looking exactly like a white tie, so on this 
account, and because of the gravity of his demeanour, 
I called him Clergyman. He was not slow in learn- 
ing his name, but there was something in his behaviour 
and that of the other dogs which puzzled me. 

In this house I might call Clergyman half a dozen 
times and he would not come — then finally, as if he 
had just made up his mind, he would deliberately 
walk over to me, looking up in my face as if he had 
the best intentions in the world. 

" Did you hear me. Clergyman ? " The honest ^y^"^ 
looked up and said, "Yes." "Why didn't you 



20 Stella 

come ? " " Otherwise engaged," he wagged with his 
tail ; and then he would run around me, as if to say, 
" I'm perfectly free now, let's have a run." 

On one occasion he stood in front of me as I 
was walking across the lawn, growling, and when I 
would not stop he sprang at me and tore a great 
piece out of the sleeve of my coat He behaved 
just as if he were guarding against a robber. But 
there was nothing particular to mark the spot ; he 
had no objection to my walking over it on other 
occasions. 

Clergyman treated me as if I were a guest, highly 
esteemed, but with distinct limitations to my privi- 
leges. He and all the other dogs seemed as if they 
had another master to whom their first allegiance was 
due. 

The fello^ys had to be taught better. One day, 
after calling Clergyman a dozen times, I caught sight 
of him in the garden. There he was, lying on the 
sunny side walk as happy as he could be, and per- 
fectly unconcerned about my summons. I was about 
to give him a lesson he would not forget But this 
secluded garden, enclosed away from the grounds by 
its high hedges, with its straight walks, prim borders, 
and flower beds open to the sun, was too pretty to be 
turned into a scene of chastisement It was just such 
a garden as a lady of long ago would tend, with 
beds of lavender and sweet-scented herbs and good 
old English flowers — ^walking in it each day, followed 
by her maids, when their spinning was done. 

There was something the dogs saw which I did not 
see, some influence which they obeyed distinct from 
mine. Being thus on the alert I distinguished slight 



Stella 2 1 

sounds and movements which otherwise would have 
escaped my notice — trifling enough; but such as 
would give a house the reputation of being haunted 
— haunted, however, by a bright spirit that loved 
the garden and the sunlight and dreaded the cold 
night. 

I was sitting on the steps. Suddenly Clergyman 
got up, shook my hand off his head and walked 
across the grass about thirty feet away. I called 
him back, but he paid no attention. Moved by a 
sudden impulse to explore the mystery of the dog's 
disobedience, I said, " You there, pray keep Clergy- 
man,*' and then I called l^in^ ags^n. Tl^e dog would 
not come, f' No\^ let l^im free,'' I said. The dog 
came at once to n^y call I did not repeat the 
experiment ; it seemed drivelling nonsense to sit 
there speaking to nothing. 

In the afternooq, jiist oi^tside the grounds, Clergy- 
man brought me a young grquse he had succeeded 
in killing. 

This was not permissible. I made him under- 
stand his fault, s^qd bieat him. In l^is struggles the 
whip caught bin^ on the side of his mputh and made 
a slight cut 

"That will teach you, Clei^man," I said, "to 
respect the powers (hat be. Like the rest of your 
cloth, you think too niuch of the invisible." 

The next day the dqg came bounding to me, liking 
me all the better, of course. He had a neat little 
patch of plaster on his cut— I wondered at that 
apathetic and unobservant woman, Parker's wife, 
having noticed the trifling injury, and bestirred her- 
self to doctor it Clergyman followed all my com- 



22 Stella 

mands implicitly ; there was not the slightest friction, 
not only in his case, but with all the other dogs : it 
was as if he had communicated with them, or as if 
the influence opposed to mine had retired, resolved 
to let me severely alone. 

Yet I was not satisfied. The charm of the place 
seemed suddenly to have gone. The business part 
of my task was nearly over, and I bestirred myself to 
complete it, yet when it was finished I found that I 
was exceedingly loth to go. Instead of packing the 
manuscripts up to read in town, I commenced them 
on the spot. 

They formed a strangely assorted mass, a diary, 
as it were, of experiments and reflections continued 
through many years, commencing with a series of 
researches on organic compounds dealing with the 
limits within which their optical properties could vary, 
while the essential constituents remained unaltered. 

Interspersed with these were speculations, some of 
which were stamped on my memory by subsequent 
events. 

" The physical constitution of man differs little, if 
at all, from age to age, and yet how different is the 
mental attitude. How is it that substantially the 
same brain can become the brain of a schoolman in 
the middle ages, a positivist in the present day ? I 
can only answer this by supposing that it is not the 
same brain. The course of evolution, which is 
already complete as regards the bodily organs in 
general when a child is born, is incomplete as 
regards the brain. According to its surroundings, 
that brain assumes very different modifications. The 
brain of the child is an analogue to that early form 



■="^=5,f-'«i*" 



Stella 23 

in which the common origin of very diflferent organ- 
isms is found" 

"Turning to the systems of thought which have 
been prevalent, we find that the common link is to 
be found in a very undeveloped form both of the one 
and the other. One does not transform itself into 
another, but is connected with its successor by an early 
stage, in which the specific character of neither is 
distinct So with systems of morals. If our whole 
conventional code, which corresponds to and implies 
our individual character, emotions, disposition, were to 
pass away, we should find that the new one which re- 
placed it began with an undeveloped state of the moral 
consciousness, showing no direct transition, but a 
common origin deep in our ethical nature. Hence it 
would be impossible to adapt an adult to a new moral 
code ; the very structure of his brain is formed in cor- 
relation to his old one. With a child, on the other 
hand, it would be possible, as its brain is in a state 
which admits the potentiality of either. Yet even 
with a child it would be extremely difficult to devise 
a means for this transition. In civilized life our least 
actions are so profoundly modified by our ideas that 
the conditions corresponding to a different moral 
system would appear almost as a different physical 
environment In the Tartar poem — let it serve as an 
example — the mother asks of her son, when he 
returns alone from the wars, if he has revenged his 
father and brothers. ' No, mother ; I have come to 
dry your tears.' She stabs him to the heart This 
represents a different phase of female development 
from that with which we are familiar — such women 
nurse their children in a different way." 



24 Stella 

It was not difficult to judge of the value of the 
parts I could understand, but there might be some- 
thing in the chemical work. I copied out some 
pages and sent them to Frank, thanking him, too, for 
the gift of the dogs. 

Day succeeded day, the weather was clear and 
settled, but I felt as if I had lost something ; Clergy- 
man, too, was in bad spirits. He walked after me 
slowly, panting. There was something the matter 
with his breathing. His collar fitted loosely, but 
there seemed a constriction round his neck. As the 
key of the collar had been lost, I filed it loose, and 
found under it a narrow leather strap, which had 
been left on and which had become too tight for him. 
In cutting it away my knife slipped and ran into my 
hand. My coat was inside the house. I had nothing 
to wrap up the cut in, so I let it bleed. Then a most 
remarkable thing happened. Suddenly a little hand- 
kerchief flew into my hand It was a dainty little 
rag, too pretty to use for my cut How it could have 
come puzzled me. There was an " S " embroidered 
in the corner. I preserved it carefully, thinking that 
possibly through it I 'might get some light on the 
strange sounds and movements I had observed. It 
seemed to be a fly-away object, for half an hour after- 
wards, as I was sitting in the hall writing letters, it 
danced off the table and went fluttering along in mid- 
air. I jumped up and seized it before it had gone 
far. At that moment Parker entered. It was his 
opening the door I supposed which had caused the 
current of air that ran off with the handkerchief. 

He wanted to know if I had any orders in the 
town. Mrs. Parker was going away for a time, and 



SuUa 2$ 

he, being in town, would be able to get anything I 
wanted. 

" Yes/' I said, ^ my wrist has been troubling me. 
Get me a bottle of EUiman's embrocation for 
cattle." My wrist was badly broken and twisted in 
a football match, and ever since it has pained me 
occasionally. There is a preparation sold by Elliman 
for men's sprains, but it is poor stuff. If you ever 
have occasion to use it, get Elli man's embrocation 
for cattle. 

When Parker brought me the bottle I did not open 
it, but put it in the hall table till needed. This bottle 
was the means of my solving the mystery. The old 
twinges coming on some days later, I took out the 
bottle from the drawer and pulled out the cork. It 
did not seem to have the same effect as usual — it was 
the kind for men. I summoned Parker and asked 
him what he had brought. '' I thought " — he began. 
*' What business have you to get what you were not 
sent for. Tell John to drive over and get the right 
stuff." As Parker left the hall I swore at him. 

Suddenly a clear, sweet voice said, — 

*' Parker did bring the other kind, but I sent him 
back for this." 

*' This is no good ; the one marked for horses and 
cattle is the one I always use," I replied. 

''Perhaps it is the best for you," the voice 
said. 

I had spoken at once without waiting to consider 
who it could be that addressed me. Nothing was 
visible save the shadowed hall, and the sunlit lawn 
through the open door. My voice sounded strange 
as I said, — 



26 Stella 

** I b^ your pardon ; I would not have sworn if 
I thought you could hear." 

" Why should you swear at all ? " the voice 
answered. 

*^ If you would speak to me sometimes, I should 
be much better." 

There was no answer. 

^ Are you still angry with me foj beating my Aog 
Clergyman ? " 

" No ; you have been so kind to him since. But 
he's mine, and his name is Sir Trevor." 

Then I was conscious that the presence was gone. 

Who could she be ? I connected her with the 
book I had read on my first day — was she the Stella 
that had copied those extracts ? 

The next day there was nothing peculiar. I felt 
inclined to call out the name I had fixed on for her, 
but the ridiculousness of speaking^o the thin air 
kept me silent. The key to the mystery might be in 
the Graham manuscripts. They lay before me in a 
formidable pile. Word by word I commenced to 
read them, but I found only the same sort of produc- 
tions which I have already described. On the 
following day, however, I was rewarded for my 
perseverance. Clergyman got up from his place at 
my feet, and with a little bark of pleasure moved out 
into the verandah. It was a note of joyful recogni- 
tion, there was no doubt about that. 

For my part, I kept my eyes steadily on the manu- 
script, and presently became conscious myself of 
some presence. 

" Is your name Stella ? " I said. 

" Yes, Mr. Churton." 



Stella 27 

" Won't you call me Hugh ? " I said, and then went 
on, " Did you know Mr, Graham ? " 

" Yes, Hugh." 

" Did you care for him ? " 

** Oh yes ! " 

" Did you ever speak with him ? " 

" He taught me all I know." 

" Did he care for you ? " 

" He loved me for the sake of my mother." 

" How old were you when he 6rst knew you ? " 

" I was five years old ; it was twelve years ago 
when I first came here." 

" How long is it " — I was going to say, " How 
long is it since you died ? " but I did not like to use 
such a word. 

" How long is it," I said, " since you were — like 
you are ? " 

" Three years," she answered. 

" Was it always you I noticed — all those strange 
things ? " 

" I suppose so," she replied. 

I have heard that people are afraid of ghosts. It 
seemed to me as if I was in the presence of some 
bright, beautiful being, so kindly and un-selfconscious 
that human weakness did not repel it 

But how could I attract this spirit, this Stella ? I 
would do anything to hear the sound of her voice 
again. But I was at a great disadvantage. If I had 
known this was going to happen to me I would have 
brought myself up differently. How many things I 
would not have done, and how much there was that I 
might have done to fit me for this kind of conver- 
sation. Sermons — they did not seem appropriate, 



28 Stella 

and I had not heard any for many years. I tried 
to recall some suitable recollections. At last I said, — 

^ Do you know, Stella, I once had the privilege of 
talking to a man who could go without food." 

" How long could he go without food, Hugh ? " 

" Well, when I saw him he had gone twenty-four 
days without food." 

" Why did he not eat anything for all that time ? " 

** I suppose it was to show the power of the will 
over the body. A man like that, I should think, gets 
to feel what it is like after death ; he must be quite 
independent of the body ; I suspect he could tell one 
things." 

^' Did you talk to him ? " she asked. 

" Oh, yes." 

" Did it do you good ? " 

" Of course, Stella. I shall never forget anything 
he said." 

•• What did he say to you ? " 

'* He said that if I meant it, I had better deposit 
the money." 

"Meant what, Hugh? what d|d you say to him 
first?" 

" I thought he was a plucky fellow, so I laid him 
two to one in fivers that he wouldn't keep it up 
another week." 

" Where did you see him ? " 

^ At the Aquarium — it is a place in London, where 
they show many interesting things." 

What a failure ! I thought ; why did I not use my 
opportunities differently? 

But she seemed interested. 

'' Did he take nothing at all ^ " 



Stella 29 

" He drank water, and he took every day a few 
drops of a liquid of his own preparation/' 

" What was it made of? " 

'* That was his secret ; he wouldn't tell any one." 

It struck me that if we have an interest in the 
spirits' world, spirits have perhaps an interest in our 
world. And so it proved with Stella, for I was per- 
mitted to tell her about many things — ^things which 
leaving our world quite young, a spirit would not 
know. But most of all she seemed to like hearing 
about my home, my father, my sisters and brothers. 
She soon knew as much about them as I did myself. 

" Stella," I said, one day, " what happens to me 
after I am dead ? " 

" Hugh, have you your eyes fixed just on what 
happens to yourself? Do you want to go quite 
separate and away ? " 

" No, Stella, but I should like to know." 

" It is very difficult to understand, but I will try to 
make you feel it — I ought to try — it is all eternity." 

** Eternity is time carried on and on," I said. 

'* No, Hugh ; in time carried on and on our souls 
leave our bodies and are in the presence of God. But 
eternity is quite different to that To find your 
eternal self is not to find yourself apart and separate, 
but more closely bound to others than you think you 
are now. You learn yourself in finding yourself 
linked with others, so that even people who have 
quite a passing place in your thoughts you find to be 
deeply connected with yourself." 

" But how," I asked, " can I be more nearly con- 
nected with them, when my dealings with them are 
over and done with ? " ' 



30 Stella 

"Oh, no," she said, "when you learn yourself truly 
you will find that they are not If you feel eternity 
you will know that you are never separated from any 
one with whom you have ever been. You come to a 
different part of yourself each day, and think the part 
that is separated in time is gone. But in eternity it 
is always there." 

" I don't understand,'' I said. *' I came across a man 
named Jim Reynolds once ; do you mean to say that 
what I did to him and what he did to me isn't settled 
and done with ? " 

** No, it is not," she answered ; " if you felt eternity, 
you would know that what you and Jim Reynolds 
did to each other is gradually changing. You think 
it is over and done with, but in eternity what you and 
he did to each other is always there, but altering and 
changing ; as you grow better he will act differently 
and you will act differently." 

" I had a little brother who died quite young; I shall 
never see him again as he Was, shall I ? " 

" Oh, Hugh, of course you do see him. A child 
that dies young is like a little plant in a garden, it is 
only smaller, not any less lasting than the others." 

" Do you mean by what you said before that we 
can alter the past ? " 

" Of course, Hugh ; that is the feeling of eternity. 
If you felt it you would know that you are always 
living in your whole life, that it is always changing, 
though with your eyes you can only see the part you 
are in now." 

I was silent. It seemed to me that she described 
life as if a painter were painting on a canvas that 
was taken away at each stroke, so that it was irrevo- 



\ 



\ 



Stella 31 

cable, but the painting was always there, and the 
painter too. 

Her meaning was not attainable in my bodily state, 
it was too foreign to our worldly experience. 

And yet I felt as if I had heard something satis- 
factory — the passing away in time a delusion — ^the 
present just a concentration, like attending to one 
thing at a time. But if my past was real, if I was 
always doing what I had done, how could I speak to 
her ? Yet she said it might all change ; there was 
hope in that I felt I could bear with anything if 
this time with her were always with me, never past 
and gone — I in reality always with her, whatever 
scenes I might be in in my time consciousness. 

" Did you make that little handkerchief move to 
me, when I was attending to Clergyman's collar ? " 

" Yes ; I was so sorry you hurt yourself." 

" Then you can move things ? " 

" How funnily you speak, Hugh ! Of course I can." 

And then she went away. I did not see anything 
when she came or went, and yet I knew when she 
was present, and was willing to talk and listen ; but I 
must pass on to a conversation which changed 
matters. 

It took place in the dining-room, or library, as it 
might be called. 

" Used you to read these books ? " I iasked. 

"Yes; the large one in the corner was my 
favourite." 

I took it down and opened it It was a great 
illustrated work, a kind of historical atlas. I turned 
over the pages, looking at battlefields, towns, buildings, 
costumes, till I came to a group of beauties of Charles 



|2 Stella 

II. reign, with their somewhat decolleU gowns and 
their fine arms. 

" They make a pretty group," I said. 

" Oh, I think they are shocking ! " 

Turning back I found a plate of some Elizabethan 
dames with long waists and enormous ruffles. 

** These are better," I said. 

" Oh, no, they are worse." 

" Why do you say so ? " 

" Because they dress so much more." 

•* But it is good to dress, isn't it ? " 

^' Oh, no, that is what shows how bad we all are ; 
all women want to be seen. They put on heaps 
of clothes to attract attention ; not one of them is 
content to be as she was intended to be." 

" Do you like Quaker dresses ? " 

" No, dress is bad altogether." 

" I don't understand." 

" Don't you know, Hugh, in the garden of Eden 
Eve was like the air — like a spirit. But Satan 
tempted her, and she wanted Adam to see her. So 
she ate of the apple of the tree of being seen and 
known." 

" But I thought, Stella, that the forbidden tree was 
the tree of knowledge." 

" That was Adam's tree, Hugh !^ There were two 
trees in the garden of Eden, a big one for Adam, and 
a smaller one near it for Eve. Her tree was the tree 
of being seen and known. When she ate that kind 
of fruit, she became visible, she was no longer as she 
was meant to be." 

" But," I said, " really it was different. Adam and 
Eve put on clothes because they were ashamed." 



» 



Stella 33 

" Hugh, you are so simple, you don't know what 
women are like. Adam was ashamed, but if you 
scold a woman for being anything, she is only more 
so. Ever since, Hugh, we have tried how much we 
could put on, and that is the temptation we must 
strive against." 

" But surely it is a very good and natural thing ? " 

" It is natural," she answered ; " I have often felt as 
if I should like to wear something myself. But it 
IS a part of our fallen nature ; we should not cherish 
such wishes." 

" But could you be seen ? " 

" If I was so wicked I could ; but I don't think it is 
wicked of the others. It is so natural, and they don*t 
know ; but I shall never be seen." 

" Then aren't you a Spirit really ? " 

A musical laugh came. 

" Oh, no, Hugh ; how can you ask that ? Think of 
all the naughty things I do. I am Stella Hollies." 

" Well, Miss Hollies, I cannot understand." 

" Haven't you read all about it in Michael's 
books ? " 

" No." 

" And yet you could have ! You have those won- 
derful writings of his in your reach all day long. I 
have not seen you read one through yet — you that 
have the right to ! " 

I made no answer. I did not want to tell her my 
opinion of Michael Graham's philosophy. 

At last I said, — 

" You explain it to me." 

" Hugh, I can't ; it's all written down." 

" Please try." 

D 



34 Stella 

•'You know, Hugh, being is being for others, and 
Michael, though he lived here alone, was always 
working for others. He was always thinking how to 
make the misery of the people less. He tried to find 
out how the body would be if we were perfect." 

" Of course," I said, " the state of the body has a 
great influence on the mind. Did he try to influence 
the mind through the body ? " 

" Not at first, Hugh ; he simply studied. He made 
a very wonderful discovery — ^that the body is really 
transparent" 

'^ If it is transparent, how is it we can't see through 
it ? " 

^ But, Hugh, think of the sea ; where it is mingled 
with the air it is opaque in the foam." 

'" Yes, it is opaque there" 

" And the body is just like that." 

" I can understand that," I said ; '* the body is com- 
posed of many different parts, all manner of foldings 
and layers, so that the light gets turned and twisted 
and sent back, even if it is transparent, just as in the 
case of water. The body can never be transparent. 
Suppose the materials of the body are as transparent 
as you like, it would always be opaque by reason of 
its structure. When light enters from air into any 
substance, it is turned at an angle ; that is what is 
called the coefficient of refraction, and the body, being 
made as it is of a multitude of parts, each turning the 
light as it enters it, must be opaque. It is perfectly 
absurd that a real person's body should be invisible." 
*'0h, there is just one way," she answered. I 
thought a moment, and then I said : '* It could only 
be transparent if the coeflScient of refraction were 



Stella 35 

unity, that is, if the light didn't bend at all in enter- 
ing the material of which the body is composed." 

" Yes, Hugh, Michael knew all that. He used to 
think it was impossible at first But he found out 
how to alter the coefficient of refraction of the body. 
He made my coefficient equal to one." 

" But why should he ? " 

" Don't you see, Hugh, being is being for others. 
Michael used to say that true life begins with giving 
up. Suppose a man dies for his country, isn't that 
the truest life ? " 

" So," I said, " the more you are like nothing the 
better you are ? " 

" That isn't exactly the right way to say it, Hugh. 
You are only at the beginning, but you will soon learn 
it far better than I can, for it is like this with me. 
All great men like Dante and Raffaelle, who have had 
a great and glorious idea, have tried to represent it in 
some woman's form, like the Madonna or Beatrice. 
And Michael has done so too. They only made 
their image in a picture or a poem. But Michael has 
made me like I am, being real ; that is the difference 
between science and imagination." 

" Then you are a real, living person ? " 

" Yes, Hugh ; didn't you know always ? " 

" Won't you put some colour or something on your 
face, so that I can see you ? " 

" How can you ask me ? Why, that would be to 
paint, and you know what every one says of women 
who paint." 

" But I assure you it is often done." 

" Oh, Hugh ! I tell you what I call them — fallen 
angels." 



36 Stella 

" What do you mean ? " 

" Those women, Hugh, are ones whose coefficient 
is really right, but they regret being invisible, and so 
they paint — they go back. It is far worse than if 
their coefficients had not been made right at all. You 
know Tm right, for every one thinks it a disgrace to 
paint" 

"But how," I said, "am I to know you are real? 
Won't you give me your hand for a moment?" 

From invisibility came a little warm hand and 
nestled in mine for a moment, then went But the 
impress lasted, sinking deeper and deeper — never to 
pass away. 

" Isn't there any way I can tell where you are by 
looking ? " I asked. 

"If you look very carefully, sometimes you can 
see where I am by the things being shifted a little 
out of their right places — it depends on the tempera- 
ture." 

" Then you are there," I said, pointing to the great 
vase at the end of the room, for it seemed to me quite 
blurred and indistinct" 

" Oh, no," she laughed, " I'm here ; " and the door 
opened and shut. 

I am not a man given to signs of weakness, 
indeed at that moment I was only conscious of a 
feeling of surprise. But my eyes had got ahead of 
me — they were so full I could not see anything dis- 
tinctly. 

In a moment or two the meaning of the whole 
thing dawned on me. I had been able to steer 
pretty clear of girls before, but this device of Michael 
Graham's beat me. I recognised the whole thing 



Stella 37 

now. I had seen the symptoms in many a good 
fellow. I had been bowled out as clean as any 
booby of them all, with the stars and' eternity busi- 
ness put in. 

I once was sent by the father of a friend of mine on 
a somewhat delicate errand. His son, a curate, had 
fallen in love with a small greengrocer's daughter at 
Margate. I was supposed to have some influence 
over young Vere. Of course such a marriage was 
absolute professional ruin. He faced that ; that was 
nothing compared to her. He would sacrifice himself 
to avoid giving his father pain, but he could not ruin 
the young life that was bound with his, and so on. 
There was no doing anything with him. When I 
went to report to his father, I found the old gentle- 
man and his wife and a young lady in conclave. She 
was no relation, but seemed to have been called in to 
support the family in their distress. I told them that 
really Vere was acting according to his lights — he 
couldn't do any differently, being so deeply in love 
as he was. Whereupon the young lady said, " I've 
no patience with him : he ought to have stopped it 
when'^he felt it coming on." 

This remark seemed to me at the time very practi- 
cal, although I little thought I should have to apply 
it in my own case. 

It was clear that Mrs. Cornish must come at once, 
and till she came I must stop to see that all was safe. 
I calculated that a telegram of a sufficiently urgent 
nature would bring Mrs. Cornish on the morrow. I 
must remain till I could give Stella over to her 
proper guardians. Meanwhile I had to stop it 
coming on. 



38 Sulla 

As I walked through the garden on my way to 
the village post-office, I knew that Stella was there 
by the way the dogs were following something in- 
visible. 

" Miss Hollies," I said, " this is very strange. 
Does no one know about you ? " 

*' I thought Mrs. Cornish and Frank would come." 

" Then you think that Mr. Graham told them ? " 

" Yes ; he said that she would be my friend." 

'* So it was you that got the house ready for 
them ? " 

" Yes ; I thought they were coming." 

" Why didn't you speak to me when you saw me } " 

" You did not speak to me." 

" But how could I ? " 

" What did you come here for ? " 

" To arrange about business mattera" 

" And not to see after me at all ? " 

" No." 

After a pause she said very slowly, " That is very 
strange ; that accounts for many things." 

*' Was it you," I said, " I heard in the arbour ? " 

" When ? " she asked. " You always sit there your- 
self, but I used to go there before you came." 

" I mean the first day after I came. I thought I 
heard some one crying there." 

" Indeed ! It was very hard not to have any break- 
fast. I thought you might have let me sit down 
there ; Michael always did. And I felt so lonely. I 
had no one when Michael died, and I thought Mrs. 
Cornish and Frank would comfort me." 

" Then I have been driving you out of your own 
place, out of the arbour all this time ? " 



Stdla 39 

"Oh no; there are plenty of other places that did 
just as well, and farther off." 

Do just as well to cry in^ I thought 

" Come, Sir Trevor," she said, and the dog went 
along the walk. 

These interviews must be avoided, or I was done 
for. 

In reply to my telegram, I learnt from her butler 
that Mrs. Cornish was in Nice : when I had sent a 
message to her there, I returned. As I approached 
Beechwood through the dark, it stood out black and 
lowering — a fitting abode for one who had deprived 
an innocent girl of all that could make life worth 
having. 

But on coming round to the front of the house a 
bright light glowed out There was the same aspect 
of cheerful welcome as when I had first arrived. 

Entering the hall I saw a little flower waving, 
coming towards me. When I thought Stella was a 
spirit, I used sometimes to ask her to give me a 
flower, thinking that I did it to test her power of 
levitation. Of course it was nothing of the kind ; I 
asked for it just as any other moon-struck idiot might 
To-night, however^ I said, " Please put it on the 
table, Miss Hollies." 

The flower fluttered into a little vase and rested 
there. " Thank you," I said. 

" Are you sorry I am not a spirit ? " 

"Oh no," I said; "but it makes a difference, you 
know." 

" You hadn't any right at all to think I was." 

The door opened and shut, and she was gone. 

By a kind of mutual consent we avoided each 



40 Stella 

other. I spent the most of the following days out of 
doors, walking over the hills, never going out of sight 
of the house. The day before Mrs. Cornish was ex- 
pected, I saw a man in a wagonette driving along the 
road which led past Beechwood. As hardly any one 
except the country folk ever passed by, I hurried 
back and inquired of Parker if any one had been 
there. It was his doctor, he said, who had come to 
see him for his rheumatism. I could not blame him, 
as I had given him permission to call some one in, 
but I warned him not to receive any more visits till 
Mrs. Cornish arrived. 

The night before she came, Sir Trevor was howling 
dismally. Parker had gone to meet the train. What 
the dogs found amiss that morning I could not tell ; 
they ran all over the place and came up to me in- 
quiringly. At length it struck me that they missed 
Stella. I went all over the grounds calling for her, 
but no answer came. I knocked at the little door ; 
there was no answer. Perhaps she was ill; but a 
deeper anxiety seized me. 

" Sir Trevor," I said, " your mistress is gone." His 
answer was a dismal howl. 

It seemed a year before the sound of the carriage 
was heard. The moment she arrived I took Mrs. 
Cornish to the green baize door, forced it open, and 
told her to go in to see if she could find some one. 

She looked at me as if she thought my request was 
rather strange, but did as I asked. She returned, 
saying that there was no one there. 

" Please look again," I said, " there is some one 
there. You can't see her ; call her name, Stella ; 
she'll answer you." 



Stella 41 

" No, Steddy," she said ; " what are you thinking 
of? The rooms are all over dust ; they haven't been 
used for ages." 

As she said this, I caught Parker's eye. He was 
observing me to see what effect this announcement 
would have on me. 

When I first looked into those rooms there was no 
dust in them. I went in and searched that side of 
the house myself. It was as Mrs. Cornish had said : 
there was dust over everything, and no sign of any 
occupant. 

The wagonette I had seen driving away a day 
ago must have contained Stella. 

There were a couple of burly fellows whom Parker 
had brought with him to take up the luggage. I 
resolved to have it out with him later on. It was no 
use alarming Mrs. Cornish any more. She came up 
to me, putting her hand on my arm, trying to calm 
me. I sat down with her, and when she was rested 
told her the story of her brother's machinations with 
Stella Hollies. 

" Stella is the name of the girl he loved," she said, 
'* and she married a Mr. Hollies, but I never heard of 
any other Stella Hollies." 

" There was a Stella Hollies living here," I said, 
" living here with him. He made her so that you 
could not see her." 

She would not believe me. She did not say so in 
so many words, but that was the upshot of her re- 
plies. 

That evening, when the house was quiet, I called 
Parker, determined to force him to tell me what had 
become of Stella. 



42 Stella 

" You know as well as I do," I said, when he ap- 
peared, " that there was a young lady in the house ; 
what has become of her ? " 

" I don't know." 

** Did you convey her away out of the house ? " 

" No." 

" Now," I said, " I offer you j^20o if you tell me 
where she has gone." 

" I wish I could earn your money," he replied, 
pumping up his courage ; " but there isn't any young 
lady as you speak of." 

As he told this lie he stammered. I am sure I 
could have broken down his pretences in another 
question or two, but unfortunately I chose what 
seemed a quicker path. I seized him by the arm and 
forced him down. " Now," I said, " tell the truth." 

He cried out, " Help ! " Instantly the two men he 
had brought with him, and who had remained con- 
cealed in the house, came forward. After a struggle 
the three of them overpowered me. 

The next morning I woke up with a racking head- 
ache. I was in bed — a doctor was in the room. 

" What is the meaning of this ? " I said ; ** why did 
those three men set on me ? " " You require to be 
watched." " What for ? " *' Fits of mania come over 
you." "Fits of fiddlestick!" and I began to get 
up. " It is necessary to control you." " Nonsense I" 
" What if you commit murder I " 

" If you think I'm insane, you must get another 
opinion ; if you want to charge me with assault, you 
must bring the case before a magistrate." 

" You are reasonable enough on most subjects," he 
replied ; " but there are delusions under which you 



Stella 43 

labour. I am here at Mrs. Cornish's request, and if 
she wants me, you may be sure that it is for your 
good." 

" If your men are here for my good, they took a 
curious way of showing it last night.'' 

"They were obliged to be rough, you so nearly 
overpowered them." 

" Well," I said, " I don't want to do anything your 
escort will interfere with. Don't let this matter go 
any further, I'll give you my word not to put myself 
out of your reach till Frank Cornish comes ; he is a 
doctor, and you can consult with him. Let us go 
and telegraph for him." 

^ Mrs. Cornish has already sent him word, and he 
is coming." 

It was not difficult to convince the doctor that any 
interference on his part was unnecessary. But he 
persisted in his conviction that in one respect I was 
labouring under a delusion. Nothing could be found 
to prove that Stella had lived there. 

I had a private detective down from an office in 
London. He, it was plain, hardly took seriously to 
the plan of tracing the whereabouts of an invisible 
lady. But he found out for me that Mrs. Parker had 
gone on a visit to some relatives in Australia. Parker 
had not concealed his whereabouts. He was in a 
little sea-side village, whence he wrote to Mrs. Corn- 
ish for his salary, and enclosed a bill every week for 
the hire of a policeman in plain clothes. He refused 
to give his doctor's address, saying that he did not 
wish to subject him to annoyance. 

Mrs. Cornish had written to a friend of hers, a 
member of the Society for Psychical Research. He 



44 Stella 

and a friend of his constituted a committee and came 
to Beechwood. Arriving, as they generally do, after 
the departure of that which they wish to observe, 
they were only able to amass some more of those 
negative observations which form so monumental a 
tribute to their industry. They talked to me with 
charming frankness, assuring me that if my insanity 
was caused by a spectre it was a very interesting 
case ; but if, on the other hand, the spectre originated 
in my deranged mental condition, it was of no 
moment to the Society. 

At last Frank came. He went into all the cir- 
cumstances with me, looked at all the localities. We 
found that some years previously a young girl had 
lived in Beechwood under Michael Graham's care, 
but he had taken her away, it was supposed on one of 
his journeys. The house was reputed to be haunted. 
Frank saw Parker, but could get nothing out of him. 

We had spent three days after his arrival without 
forming any definite plans of search. 

" Cornish," I said to him, " you believe me, don't 
you } " 

** I won't say," he replied ; " you have either a very 
peculiar form of mania, affecting one set of ideas 
only, and leaving you in perfect possession of your 
faculties on all other points, or you are correct in 
every particular. But it doesn't matter what I be- 
lieve, I'm going to take up your view for all I am 
worth. We have come to the age of experiment — it's 
a lesson the gamblers have taught us, to live on 
chances, as if they were certainties. In old times 
people used to have to hypnotize themselves into 
the belief that they were right before they could do 



Stella 45 

anything. Now we know that every conviction we 
have is a hypothesis of more or less plausibility, but 
we choose the supposition we mean to work on, and 
act on it as if it were a certainty, trusting in evo- 
lution, which does for the whole what providence 
was supposed to do for the individual." 

" Good Heavens ! " I said, " do stop this rot ! I 
want to find Stella ; what do you propose to do ? " 

" Right, old man," he said, " I was only trying you ; 
you are not weak-minded yet. You have your old 
healthy attitude towards abstract ideas." 

"Abstract ideas of the kind you produce, certainly," 
I said ; " now think it out ; tell me your opinion." 

We were sitting in the little arbour, from which I 
had driven her, the great wall of trees stood dark 
and imperturbable, here and there the sunlight caught 
the grey stonework of the house ; it was the quietest 
spot in England. 

At last Frank looked up. 

" Steddy, I have it ! " 

" What ? " 

" She has been stolen by the Spiritualists ! " 

" I don't think she is a girl who could be stolen." 

" Well, stolen with or without her own consent 
That is what has become of her." 

" She would never lend herself to deception of any 
kind." 

" Of course not ; but consider, any one who was 
clever enough to induce her to leave here could work 
wonders with her. Suppose with regard to her he 
were to ask her to explain my uncle's ideas, and on 
the other hand told one of his dupes not to inter- 
rupt a spirit. Why, he would satisfy any number of 



46 Stella 

test conditions. You stop here ; you must, in case 
she comes back of her own accord. Read the manu- 
script ; find out what she would be likely to say. I 
will look out for any remarkable manifestation in the 
spirit-loving world, and we can compare notes." 

" It seems to me/' I said, " thdXyou had better work 
at Mr. Graham's writings. They were left to you." 

** Impossible!" he answered. "No man who knows 
what science is can stand the jargon about being 
and substance." 

" I suppose the Greeks wrote jargon then ? " 

** They said all that is possible to be said from the 
point of view of ordinary observation ; they exhausted 
all that a sensible man can say. The only thing to 
be done now is to get new observations, new points 
of view ; that kind of thought is extinct. You won't 
get any modern man to listen to it without a com- 
passionate smile. Now, you have been brought up 
on the sediment of all the ages. You know how to 
swallow it whole and deglutinate it in examinations. 
You may as well do a bit more of that kind of 
work." 

Frank went up to town. Stella's return, if she did 
come back, would be sure to be made evident by the 
joy of her faithful followers. My attention was quite 
free for the study of the philosopher. No one was 
ever read with greater diligence and aversion. 

There was more lucidity about the writings than 
any one would have expected. The chief difficulty in 
the way of a clear comprehension of Michael Gra- 
ham's ideas lay in the confusion of two distinct 
strains of thought, an earlier and a later one, the 
transition between the two being nowhere clearly 



Stella 47 

marked. It was, as often happens, a dogmatic idea 
lives on into a critical philosophy, and causes no end 
of difficulties to the student 

The first phase of Michael Graham's speculations 
was well represented by what Stella had told me. 
Being is being in and for another : this he re-stated 
with endless variations in expression and represen- 
tation. According to him, Self-interest was an inver- 
sion of the true motive of life. He pointed out that 
all the economic relations of life which bring good for 
society out of the self-directed efforts of men show 
equally that an activity directed towards the good of 
others would imply the best development of the indi- 
vidual. It would be the duty of every one to exert 
his own powers and preserve himself for the sake of 
the whole. The harmony works both ways. 

He asserted that the forms of life, on the two hy- 
potheses of acting for others and acting for self, are 
almost the same. The transition from the operation 
of one principle to that of the other would imply no 
violent outward change, but a difference in the work- 
ing of each part. 

The evils which attend our present state of society 
he looked upon as incurable ; they, he asserted, are 
the forces by which men will be compelled to adopt 
a new principle as the basis of their action. 

Michael Graham did not avoid the objections of all 
kinds to which his theory was open. Would people 
in general work as hard for others as they do for 
themselves ? Would they not relapse into laziness 
when the pinch of hunger, consequent on idleness, was 
removed by the efforts of others from its exigence on 
them ? What would become of the laws of decency 



48 Stella 

and morality if each person thought only about 
others, not what was due to himself or herself? Self- 
love has a very unmistakable object, love for others 
an indefinite one. Where will it begin ? Is it love 
for one other, or for all others — for man, including 
the negro and the Chinese, or for man without those 
races, for the universe, for what ? He seemed to 
count on a pious fervour, a love of the All, of God. 
On the one hand he placed love of self with a con- 
stant stimulus in the desires and wants of the indi- 
vidual ; on the other hand he placed devotion to the 
All with, as stimulus, not the appetites or desires, but 
the needs of others. His final solution was not given, 
for in the midst of these speculations he broke off 
quietly with the to me most interesting expression, 
**A11 these questions I propose to examine, not in 
the old manner of a priori imagination, but by ex- 
periment." 

Here occurred a gap of two or three hundred 
pages. 

Putting together what Stella had told me, and 
what I had read, I came to the conclusion that 
Michael Graham had resolved to try practically what 
direction the activities of the soul took when the self- 
regarding impulses were denied the opportunity of 
existence. A boy cares about eating and drinking 
and getting things. You could not deprive him of 
these self-centred activities of his, without making 
him one with the All — a proceeding which Michael 
Graham would have been quite capable of, but which 
would have left him little opportunity for investiga- 
tion. Instead of a boy he experimented on a girl, 
for a girFs self-love is concerned with being looked at 



Stella 49 

— ^it is in producing an effect on others that her self- 
love is gratified. By taking away visible corporeality 
from Stella, he took away the means of living for 
herself. Refusing to allow her to dress, he put her in 
a condition in which the set of motives complementary 
to self-love were bound to come into activity. The 
ground was cleared for them. 

The loss of these pages I blamed myself for. I 
had no doubt they would have proved my correctness 
on the disputed point But the individual who had 
stolen Stella had been acute enough to take away at 
the same time the documentary proofs of her exist- 
ence. I had no doubt they were in their right place, 
running consecutively on, when I first had the oppor- 
tunity, which I so neglected, of becoming acquainted 
with Michael Graham's philosophy. 

After this gap the manuscript rolled on in its volu- 
minous flood. In order to gain any connected idea 
of what Michael Graham was after, I found it neces- 
sary to construct a working model of his system — to 
make a representation in definite and limited terms 
of the relations he strove to show as universal But 
it was a difficult task. 

Listen first to a few of the enigmatic utterances of 
my philosopher, and you can tell what it cost me to 
assign any definite meaning. 

" We do not stop with a catalogue of our sensa- 
tions ; we do not merely say there are these sounds, 
colours, sensations of contact which occur. We seem 
unable to remain content with simply regarding them 
as existing. We stiffen them up. By themselves 
they are thin — we suppose a substance behind them, 
and we say the sensations are the relations to us of 

E 



so Sulla 

substance. But just as without a substance impres- 
sions are thin, so this substance in its turn, which 
stands for a sum of sensation, is thin without a sub- 
stance to hold it up. Splitting up our experience 
into a substance and its relation to us, it follows that 
this substance is but the. relation to us of a deeper 
substance. Thus in the idea of substance as of 
motion we have an essential relativity. In the 
study of motion no fixed point can be found. Yet 
that does not hinder the calculation of movements. 
So, although we can find no absolute being, yet that 
is no bar to the discovery of relative being. The 
idea of substance is a path, not a finality. 

** As with substance so with the self. We must re- 
member that the self is a relative term by its very 
origin and definition, as that which appears to the 
consciousness in appetites and passions, it is itself *an 
appearance of a self beyond. This self beyond is not 
to be found in an introspection of the self we know 
but in the consideration of ourselves as given with 
others, of ourselves as changing. The higher self is 
that through which these conflicting selves exist, 
through which each has its individuality. The hin- 
drance to our entering on the path is that we judge 
everything by our consciousness, as if that were fixed, 
instead of recognising that the question is how our 
consciousness comes to assume the form it does. 
. " The first step is to recognise that our conscious- 
ness is so limited that the realities of the world and 
ourselves cannot be adequately represented in it 

^' On the stage of consciousness the great things of 
the world and ourselves are presented as fugitive, as 
not existing yet, as ceasing to exist, leaving a flicker- 



Stella 5 1 

ing present between the nothingness of the past and 
the future. It is not so ; there is a bearer of con- 
sciousness which by its orbit makes our experience 
what it is. As the round earth rotating links all men 
in a common perception of the rising and setting 
stars, so the bearer of consciousness by its orbit 
makes us all experience the common human lot, to 
think the common thoughts, to see one and all the 
rising and the setting of the body. What that bearer 
of the consciousness is, how connected with man, is 
the problem; certain it is that all that men think 
and feel in common is a means to explore its nature. 
" The idea of a higher state of being is one which 
has left a lasting impress on the history of thought, a 
state higher and more real. Yet in this respect it is 
curious to note that although the higher state is sup- 
posed to be more powerful than the state we know, 
yet the emblems and images which are used for it 
are derived from objects which seem to possess less of 
rather than all the qualities of matter. The spiritual 
higher world is imaged under forms of matter so at- 
tenuated as hardly to resemble matter at all. The 
origin of this is to be found partly, and in a small 
measure, in the influence of that school which looks 
on material existence as evil, and therefore connects 
spiritual existence with the absence of matter. But 
the true cause is that there is a consciousness in us 
deeper than thought, which is directly reached, which 
is reminded of the higher existence by the clear 
depth of waters, by the limitless profundity of the 
night-time sky. A crystal thrills us with a sense of 
something higher, saying as it were, ' Confined as you 
and I are to this earthly state, still letting fall away 



$2 Sidla 

the encircling barriers of obscurity that with us this 
bdi^ isy I show myuM to yon even as you and I and 
all are to the higher vision^' "^ 

Here there seemed to be a dbtant allusion to 
Stella, though one would think it hardly possible 
that a girl should be designedly made transparent 
for the sake of being an emblem. Perhaps Michael 
Graham, having made her transparent in his dogmatic 
stage, and being unable to undo his work, consoled 
himself with the thought that she was an emblem. 
Is it not a merciful dispensation of Providence that 
physiological chemistiy has been hidden from ab- 
stract philosophers, all of them, from Plato and Par- 
menides down to Hegel and Herbert Spencer. 

It was out of writing of this sort that I had to con- 
struct something plain and definite. In putting the 
working model before you, I must ask you not to 
mind making arbitrary assumptions — ^it is not a 
question of truth or error, but of what Michael Gra- 
ham meant 

Imagine then certain figures drawn on a sheet of 
paper. Call the lines which mark them off from one 
another their '^ relations " to each other, or to the sur- 
rounding surface. I call these lines relations, because 
they are that by which the figures come into contact 
with each other. Similarly, if we imagine a solid 
divided up into many solids, the faces by which these 
are in contact with each other can be called their 
relations. The face is to the solid what the line is to 
the plane figure. 

Conceive now a solid with a great number of faces. 
These faces are separated from each other by bound- 
ing lines, which are the edges of the solid. Suppose 






Stella 53 

these faces to have the power of reasoning and re- 
flection. Let them come to a consciousness of each 
other. They know first of all of their relations — to 
explain these they conceive themselves and those 
about them to have substance. This substance, how- 
ever, is what we call plane surface. Now we know 
that what they call substance is really a relation. 
Not knowing of the solid, they think that superficial 
substance is the ultimate substance. But this sub- 
stance of theirs is really in the same relation to the 
solid as their lines are to their substance. 

This is an instance of Michael Graham's ^^pathV 
The objection to it of course is, that we come to a 
dead wall. There isn't anything beyond a solid sub- 
stance of which the solid is a relation in the sense 
used above. Michael Graham, however, thought he 
could go one better. 

The same illustration serves for the exhibition of 
the doctrine of the higher and lower self; for the 
solid is that in virtue of which each of the faces has 
an individual existence, and which at the same time 
is known through the totality of the faces. 

As to other points we must call in the aid of 
motion. Suppose a stick to be pushed down into a 
pool of water, it makes an opening in the surface of 
the water. If it is held slanting wise, while it is 
pushed down, it makes an opening in the surface 
which moves along. Now suppose the surface of the 
water to be removed, and to form a film like the film 
of a bubble, only extending very widely. If this film 
moves along and comes into contact with any object, 
it has the faculty of filling up all round the object and 
closing up any opening the object has made as it shifts. 



54 Stella 

Let this film come to a corkscrew, end on. The 
spiral corkscrew will cut the film in a spot, and as the 
film moves on the point of intersection will move in a 
circle. Call now this film the bearer of consciousness. 
Let consciousness come in where the film and the 
objects it meets are in contact. What you will get 
in this film of consciousness as a record of the spiral 
is a point moving in a series of circles. To the single 
existence of the spiral corresponds a whole series of 
movements of a point on the film. This series of 
movements attended with consciousness may be 
called a life. Hence the total life in the film of 
consciousness is the representation in consciousness 
of the one state of the spiral. If, however, the spiral 
were altering and changing, if it had a life of its own, 
this life would be represented in successive films by 
a series of lives, each differing very slightly from the 
last, each total life representing just one stage of the 
existence of the spiral. In a film view of the solid, 
what is really coincident must, of course, be appre- 
hended as consecutive. Michael Graham seemed 
really to consider that our consciousness was of this 
nature, that we were outside the time we knew, and 
that a true view of ourselves was as having a life of 
lives. But, of course, since there isn't anything out- 
side space, when you came to pin him down definitely, 
there wasn't anything in what he said. 

The same defect holds true in his illustration of 
transparency. If we suppose figures drawn on paper, 
the lines, the boundaries of each, would hide them 
from each other, while, looked at from space, each 
woulii be perfectly open to view. If one of them 
were transparent, it would in a sort of way represent 



Stella 55 

to the others the view of itself a being not confined 
to the plane would have. But when you come to 
solids the thing is different 

Michael Graham did not find the next steps on his 
"/fl/A" so easy. Instead of abandoning it, however, 
he argued that we could only observe what we praeti* 
cally had done ourselves; that in order to be able 
to observe higher matter we must make ourselves 
familiar with the possibilities of it, and his writings 
consisted largely of an account of a discipline by 
which this could be done. However, I have showo 
that the whole theory is unsound, and the details 
hang on the same branch. 

At length I became convinced that nothing in the 
manuscripts would aid me in the search for Stella. 
The correspondence, too, proved barren of informa-. 
tion. It was almost more than I could stancji to see 
Sir Trevor pining and moping. I had trouble to get 
him to take his food at all. Leaving the hous.e in 
the care of an old servant of Mrs. Cornish— it was 
difficult to make them understand what to do if 
Stella returned — I went up to town. 

Frank'was at the hospital. *' I have some indirect 
evidence of Miss Hollies' existence," he said, holding 
out a little tube. 

** What has a test-tube half full of water to do with 
it ? " said I. 

"It isn't water. If your theory is true, the body 
is really transparent I have here a piece of fiesht 
By immersing it in a heavy oil of the same coefficient 
of refraction as flesh, and keeping it under the air* 
pump for a long time, I permeated all the minute 
passages ; the result is a substance invisible in the 



$6 Stella 

oil, but which looks like a piece of glass out of it 
Now the coefficient of refraction has only to be made 
equal to unity, and it will be invisible in the air." 

" But the blood," I said ; " you could not treat a 
living person so." 

"The blood owes its colour to salts of iron," he 
answered ; " all we have got to do is to replace the 
iron by some element having colourless compounds. 
I don't doubt this will be a valuable aid to anatom- 
ical research. We shall be able to make perfectly 
transparent animals ; but this is only by the way, 
such things can wait" 

"Have you heard of any spiritualist performances ?" 
I asked. 

" No, only the usual kind, in the dark. Have you 
found any references in Graham's correspondence ? " 

" No ; there are many letters from Germany and 
some from America." 

" In Germany," said Frank, " they are mostly in- 
terested in pure science, but in America they go in 
for applied science. This running off with Stella is 
the sort of thing nobody but an American would 
have the ingenuity to think of. Do you know 
Michael Graham's correspondents ? " 

"Yes; ril go over there and make inquiries," I said. 

" Very well, I'll hunt clubland ; everything curious 
is heard of, sooner or later, there. I shall do it much 
better than you, for you don't seem in a mood to 
make yourself agreeable." 

" Who would, mixed up with a family like yours, 
that is always cutting up and interfering with 
people's bodies," I said ; for Frank's experiments 
with the flesh disgusted me. 



Stella 57 

" Keep me in the track of your movements. FU 
telegraph the moment anything turns up/' said he. 

I need not bore you with an account of my fruitless 
journeyings in the States. In California, where I had 
gone on a false clue, I received a telegram from 
Frank— " Return." In New York I found a letter 
from him, which I read on board till I knew it by 
heart : — 

"Dear Steddy,— 

''You can judge for yourself what amount of 
evidence there is I go on, but you ought to be over 
here. While you have been going about in hotels 
and sleeping cars, I have been hunting clubland. It 
is much more pleasant and more certain in the long 
run. 

" Who do you think helped me to the clue I have ? 

Bishop B . He honours me with more of his 

episcopal kindness than I deserve. You know I 
always had a kind of sneaking wonder how a man 
could be a bishop. 

" You would be surprised if I were to tell you the 
number of queer and questionable stories I have told 
about myself in the past few months. A man of de- 
cent feeling, if you tell him anything queer about 
yourself, feels bound to tell you something queer 
about himself to make the footing equal Now a 
bishop hasn't anything queer to tell about himself, 
or, if he has, he's excused. Consequently the bishop, 
by way of return, told me the following incident : — 

" A card was brought to him recently with a letter 

of introduction from the celebrated chemist C . 

In the letter Professor C stated that he had been 



58 Stella 

present at many siances given by the bearer of the 
letter, that all the conditions he laid down had been 
complied with, that personally he felt sure there was 
no imposture, that the phenomena he had witnessed 
had no explanation according to any known law of 
nature. He did not know the object of the bearer 
in wishing the honour of an interview with his lord- 
ship, but he felt bound to give his testimony when 
asked for it. 

" When ushered in Professor Biglow — the name on 
his card — informed the bishop that he had taken the 
liberty of consulting him with regard to the religious 
faith of a lady through whom wonderful communica- 
tions were made from the spirit world, and who was 
possessed of supernatural powers. 

" * What are those powers ? ' said the bishop. 

** * She can often converse with a spirit, in the light 
or dark, it makes no difference. The spirit will move 
material objects at her asking, and, in response to her 
questions, will reveal wonderful truths about the 
future life.* 

" ' What do you want with me ? ' said the bishop. 

" * My Lord, this sainted lady believes that she is 
a member of your Church. But she has but little 
knowledge of the Articles. It cannot be long before 
the wonders which she works will be widely known. 
They are not the common performances, my Lord, 
but genuine miracles, such as the early Christians 
worked ; and she, believing that she believes in your 
creed, these miracles will, so to speak, occur under 
your auspices.' 

** * H*m ! ' said the bishop. 

" * Now, my Lord,' said Professor Biglow earnestly, 



Stella 59 

' I am sure, with all the trouble you have had about 
the miracles which took place long ago, and the 
unkind way in which Professor Huxley wrote about 
them in the magazines, you would very much rather 
not have any new ones — reed new ones, I mean, which 
you could not disavow.' 

" The bishop kept silent 

" ' If now,' Biglow continued, * I were to. persuade 
the sainted lady, who knows but little of the forms 
which creeds have taken, to attach herself to the 
Romanists ^ 

'* The bishop remained silent 

*• • Or to the Unitarians-—' 

" The bishop did not answer, and, after a moment's 
hesitation, Biglow went on,— ^ 

" ' If so, my Lord, I hope I could look to you for 
support It has cost me a considerable sum to sup- 
port the sainted lady in an appropriate style, and 
there has been much expense in satisfying the con- 
ditions laid down by the Professor. I hope your 
Lordship can see your way to providing me with a 
thousand guineas, and I can assure your Lordship 
that the miracles shall be attached to any denomina- 
tion your Lordship is pleased to specify.' 

" * I am very sorry,' said the bishop ; ' in these 
cases I make it a rule never to transact business of 
this kind except with men who have been educated 
at Eton or Harrow and are members of one of the 
Universities. Good-morning.' 

" The bishop dropped the matter from his memory, 
but happened to light upon it in conversation with me. 

" If Miss Hollies exists in the condition you de- 
scribe — excuse the * ifl I am not any the less earnest 



6o Stella 

in my efforts — I am sure something curious will turn 
up sooner or later in connection with her. It is worth 
while to investigate Biglow and his sainted lady. He 
probably employs a medium, who pretends to go into 
a trance, and then converses with Miss Hollies accord- 
ing to a set number of questions. 

•* Yours ever, 

"Frank Cornish." 

Arrived in London, I found that C — « was tra- 
velling on the Continent and had not answered 
Frank's letter. It was in Nice that I met him. 

''I believe you are acquainted with a Professor 
Biglow?" 

" Yes," he replied. 

'' I should be glad to know his address." 

" I am unfortunately unable to give it you." 

*' You are conducting some experiments with him 
which you find are of a remarkable nature ?" I asked. 

C did not answer. 

" You are probably not aware that these results are 
produced by a young lady who walks about the room 
while you tie up the medium and arrange your elec- 
trical precautions." 

" That is impossible." 

" It seems so, but she is transparent/' 

" In any case she would be seen." 

'* No, her coefficient of refraction is equal to unity." 

" I have heard about you," he said ; ** you are 
suffering from a delusion, While regretting your 
mistake, I must inform you that I am not a man to 
put up with any annoyances, and shall certainly do 
my best to protect Mr. Biglow from them." 



SuHa 6 1 

C— — IS a man slightly under the middle height 
with piercing blue eyes. There is an air of openness 
to impression about him which makes him seem un- 
like most other scientific men whom I have known. 
He is the least untrammelled of mortals by precon- 
ceptions of any kind. One of his great discoveries 
was made while trying to find out if bodies lost 
weight when heated — a question which is generally 
supposed to be settled. With almost any one else 
the assertion of Stella's optical peculiarity would 
have deprived me of any degree of consideration at 
all. But in addition to all C 's openness to novel- 
ties, he possessed in a marked degree that ardour for 
experiment which becomes a second nature with 
scientific men, and which proved afterwards, alas! 
so disastrous to our hopes. You had only to suggest 

a novel experiment to C to make him your firm 

friend. 

" You may think it impossible," I said ; " but you 
cannot refuse to take it into consideration. Test it as 
a matter of fact. I say that this Biglow has under 
his influence a young lady in the condition I mention. 
He has taken her away from her friends, and you 
must admit that he is a most unfit person to have 
the care of her." 

'* Biglow seems to me," he said, " a very fair speci- 
men of his class." 

" His influence over her is gained by his representa- 
tions that she is furthering a good cause," I said. 
" He is deceiving her and you." 

" What do you want me to do ? " he interrupted. 

"When you know she is in the room, or as you 
would say the spirit, get Biglow outside and ask her. 



62 Stella 

unheard by him, if her coefficient of refraction is 
equal to unity. Then tell her that Mrs. Cornish im- 
plores her to come to her at 51, Pembridge Gardens." 
C took the address. " I have no expecta- 
tion that you will gain anything but disappointment, 
but I have no hesitation in promising to do what you 
ask. In return, I must beg you to refrain from trying 
to find out Biglow's address through me. If I can 
be instrumental in removing the delusion under 
which you suffer I shall be glad." 

" I have no doubt of the result," I said ; '' ask her 
to come to Mrs. Cornish. Bring her yourself if you 
can." 

"If what you say is true, I certainly will," he 
replied. " I will let you know when I am going to 
meet Biglow next, in about a week from now ; mean- 
while, we had better both of us go about our ordinary 
business." 

"Above everything, do not let Biglow know you 
suspect the facts of the case," I said ; " if he does he 
will take her away — ^you will have done more harm 
than good." 

Through the whole of the ensuing week our ex- 
ertions to find out Professor Biglow's whereabouts 
were unremitting, but met with no success. At last 

a telegram came from C , informing us that he 

would call in the course of the day. 

" He will bring her," I said. 

We got ever)^hing ready for Stella ; a house full 
of love and joy was waiting for her. 

At last there was a ring ; C came in. 

" Is she coming ? " 

" Tell us all about it ! " 



Stella 63 

" Was it as I told you ? " 

We overwhelmed him with questions. 

" There is no doubt it is she," he said. " I have just 
come from a siance with Biglow. The first test was 
one of materialization of the spirit. A lady medium 
was lying on a sofa, I searched the room very care- 
fully ; then I placed wires over her, so that the 
slightest movement would break contact and give an 
alarm. There was a loose wrapper of a thin material 
lying on the back of the couch. After a few minutes 
it began to lift, and then, evidently robing, a figure 
moved about the room. 

" I asked if it would touch my hand. The figure 
advanced, and the robe, moving as if an arm were 
underneath, a warm hand rested on mine for a few 
seconds and then withdrew. In order to get Biglow 
out of the room I beckoned to him ; outside the door 
I said to him, * No doubt if this is a spirit it would 
be able to tell me what I do downstairs.' 

** * I think it would,* he said. 

" ' Let us go down,' I replied. First he opened the 
door and said a few words ; we then went down 
together. 

"In the lower room I opened a book, took an 
envelope out of my pocket and put it in at page 300. 

" He wished to accompany me up again, but I ex- 
plained to him that that would spoil the test. 

"He seemed doubtful, then made up his mind. 
* Very well,' he said, ' but do not do more than ask 
one question ; the medium is suffering terriUy to- 
day.' 

"When I came upstairs,.! did not ask about the 
book. 



64 Stella 

" • Is your coefficient of refraction equal to unity ? 
I asked. 

" * Yes/ a voice replied. 

" * Then you are a real person ? ' 

" * Aren't you convinced yet ? ' she answered. 

•* Then it flashed on me that all the experiments 
were proposed by Biglow — ^he proposed the experi- 
ments and I devised the tests for ascertaining the 
genuineness of the phenomena — all the experiments 
were such as she might have played her part in, with 
the sole aim of proving that she was real. I saw at 
once how Biglow had managed it all. I ought to 
apologise to you, Mr. Churton, for my reception of 
you, but Biglow had told me that you were under the 
delusion that the spirit was a real person, and had 
nearly committed murder on an unoffending person 
who tried to disabuse you of the notion." 

" Well, what next, what did you say to her next ? " 
I asked. 

" I asked her if her tyts could not be seen. 

" * Very faintly,' she answered, • if you look exactly 
at them.' " 

" Whatever was the sense of that ? " I asked. 

" You see," said C , " if she sees, her eyes must 

take in some of the light and turn it into conscious- 
ness. If none of the light was absorbed it could not 
produce any impression on her." 

" Well, then ? " 

'^ Oh, ah, then I asked her if I might bring an acti- 
nometer, and measure how much light was absorbed." 

" But what had that to do with it i " 

"You see, by that means I could measure the 
coefficient of consciousness." 



Sulla 6^ 

" Well then," I said, " you gave her my message ? " 

" Unfortunately, just then Biglow came in, and said 
something I did not catch, and told me the spirit had 
dematerialized." 

"So you fooled away the time about your co- 
efficients when you could have saved her," I said. 

"It really is a very important question," said 
Frank, who saw how near the Royal Society was 
to losing one of its most prominent members. 

" I tell you this," I said ; " if you had brought her 
here, you could have looked at her eyes through your 
actinometer as much as ever you liked ; as it is, when 
we have found her, you shall never bring that instru- 
ment near her. What is the address ? Tell us ; 
that is the least thing you can do." 

C— - gave us the address. When Frank and I got 
to the house, in answer to our ring a caretaker ap- 
peared. He told us the house was let furnished to 
a Mr. Biglow, who came there occasionally with 
friends, but did not sleep there. He had been there 
that morning, but had gone away. 

Frank and I kept watch all that day, and had the 
house watched for weeks, but Biglow never appeared. 

The medium, no doubt, had not been in so very 

sound a trance. She had heard what C asked 

Stella, and told Biglow. He had at once left the 
house, and there were no means to trace him. The 
agent told us the house had been rented for a short 
period only. 

I must do C justice to say that he did every- 
thing in his power to repair the fiasco due to his scien- 
tific ardour. With our permission, he talked the 
matter over with the president of the Psychical Society. 

F 



66 Stella 

We had hopes that the president would be able to 
identify Biglow with one of the numerous spiritual- 
istic entrepreneurs known to him. In this we were 
disappointed, but he gave me introductions to all the 
mediums he knew. When I found any one of them 
who could possibly be supposed to answer to Biglow's 

description, I would take C to meet him. But in 

every case the result was a disappointment, and in 
one respect the president did our search a great deal 
of harm. For he let fall the remark, that rather than 
believe that a human being had an appearance so 
nearly like that of a spirit, he was inclined to the hy- 
pothesis that Stella was a spirit, who thought herself 
a human being. This remark had a visible effect on 

C ^ for, as I have said, there was no supposition 

whatever which he would not take up; no matter 
how improbable it was, he was quite willing to adopt 
it. 

Mrs. Cornish, I could see, had quite relapsed into 
her previous state of incredulity, although, to avoid 
paining me, she talked of Stella as if she were real. 
Frank was the only one in whom I found any satis- 
faction. He frankly admitted that he considered 
that the evidence was against me. But even if it 
were my delusion, it was good enough for him. He 
was going to devote himself to the search till I told 
him to stop. 

Amidst all this, the time of my departure for 
China was approaching. I could not remain depen- 
dent on my father indefinitely. I saw in future years 
that if I were away the belief in Stella would 
gradually sink away, leaving for her what — in return 
for her devotion to Michael Graham's memory ? 



Stella 67 

C was the only one of us who knew Biglow by 

sight And he was a man of many affairs. I must 
say I never found him unwilling, when I called on 
him, to accompany me on an errand of identification, 
however unlikely in promise of success. But no 
one could expect him to be continually searching. 
Biglow might have taken her out of England. He 
was on his guard now. He knew that others, besides 
myself, suspected the truth, and would redouble his 
precautions. 

One evening, sitting with Mrs. Cornish in the dusk, 
I ceased talking and looked silently in the fire. 

Her hand stole into mine. ** Dear Hugh," she said, 
"I wish you would speak to a friend of mine, a 
clei^fyman." 

"I will," I said ; "Clergyman's the boy." 

I took the night express to York, and went out by 
a local train in the morning. By twelve o'clock 
Clergyman, alias Sir Trevor, was bounding round me 
in the extremity of joy. He had seen Biglow. I 
had heard him through my sleep howling when that 
man took away all his joy in life. Biglow must 
have been about the house many days, on and off, 
when I vainly imagined I was guarding her from 
harm. My hope was that Clergyman would recognise 
the man who had robbed us — would recognise him 
despite any disguises which would prevent my apply- 
ing C 's description. I returned to London, and 

one afternoon, in a retired walk in the park, I saw 
my old antagonist, Jim, approaching me. There was 
no mistaking him, despite the fact that he was dressed 
in a good suit of clothes. He was following a few 
yards behind a gentleman in a long cloak, with the 



68 Stella 

collar well up round his neck^ and his hat low on his 
head. 

I looked at Jim, wondering if he was meditating a 
daylight robbery, or if he was employed as a body- 
guard by some anti-Pamellite politician, when I was 
startled by a deep growl from Sir Trevor. He was 
standing straight in the path of the cloaked indi- 
vidual. 

I comprehended th« situation at once. 
"Hullo, Jim! "I said, "this is an old friend of 
mine," and I pushed my arm through the arm of my 
new-found old friend. As I did so I whispered in 
his ear, " If you begin to resist, FU let the dog get at 
you. Hell tear your throat out before any one can 
save you." - 

Sir Trevor, showing his teeth in a way that con- 
firmed my words, fell in behind us. 

The man did not say a word. He evidently knew 
me, and this confirmed my belief that I had got 
Biglow at last. From my friendly nod to Jim he 
judged that I had bought him over. He looked 
round. There was no policeman in sight. 

We turned out of a gate ; I called a cab, put 
Biglow in, and followed closely myself. Sir Trevor 
jumped on us. I shouted to Jim to follow us in 
another vehicle. 

It is a curious fact that, however much imposture 
a medium practises, even if he starts as an impostor 
merely, he inevitably comes to believe in the genuine- 
ness of spirit-manifestations ; he believes there are 
genuine manifestations, even although his are assisted 
ones on every occasion. In the same way, Biglow 
had pretended to mesmerize so many people that he 



Stella 69 

quite believed there was such a thing as mesmerism, 
and was prepared to feel as if he were mesmerized on 
this occasion. 

At any rate, he did not make any resistance. 

"Take me where she is," I said. He gave the 
driver an address in Hampstead. 

We reached a little villa standing secluded in its 
own grounds. The door was opened by a person 
whom I presume to have been the medium of the 
scene which our friend C described. 

Biglow looked round. The other cab had not yet 
appeared. " Tell Jim to wait," I said to our driver ; 
'' we shall want both cabs," and then I pushed Biglow 
inside the hall. 

He went into a room leading out of the hall. Evi- 
dently the contention which he had made to the 
Bishop about the expenses consequent on the care of 
the saint were justified. 

"You have brought yourself within reach of the 
law," I said, "by the abduction of Mrs. Cornish's 
ward, and I don't doubt you will see the inside of a 
prison before long. Meanwhile, you have to account 
to me. Where is Miss Hollies ? " 

** I will do everything I can," said Biglow. " I do 
not deny that a spirit appeared at my dear friend 
Michael Graham's residence, nor that she sometimes 
condescends to manifest herself here, now that I 
have devoted myself to the exposition of his philo- 
sophy." 

" You understand no more of Michael Graham's 
philosophy than a cow," I answered. 

" Indeed I do," he replied. " Being " 

I was not unwilling to pass a few minutes without 



70 Stella 

further action, as I had seen Sir Trevor bound up 
the stairs, and knew that, if Stella were in the house, 
he would soon find her. 

A sound of joyful barking cut short his remarks. 

" The game is nearly up now, isn't it ? " I said. 

*' Michael Graham was my dearest friend. You 
want to deprive him of her assistance." 

" Not at all," I said, as Sir Trevor came into the 
room. " I have read every word he has written." 

"What do you want, Hugh?" said Stella's voice, 
quite close to me. 

"I want you to come to Mrs. Cornish," I said. 
"She never received any word about you from her 
brother, and now she wants you for his sake." 

"Very well, Hugh. I'll come if you will wait a 
little while." 

We sat there half an hour, talking about the elec- 
tions, about Michael Graham's philosophy. Professor 

C ^ the scenery about Beechwood, and many 

other topics. He exerted himself to produce a good 
impression on me. I did not feel any anxiety, for 
Sir Trevor was above — a much more faithful guardian 
than I had been. At last, a young lady appeared, 
quietly dressed, with a hat on, and a veil hanging in 
one or two folds. 

" I'm ready now, Hugh,^' said Stella's voice, 

"Stella Hollies," said Biglow, in a tone of the 
deepest sadness, " reflect ; if you go you give up all 
the work Michael Graham entrusted to you. All of 
it is lost. They will influence your mind so that you 
no longer care. They will prevent you from seeing 



me 



C( 



Oh, not at all," I said. " Miss Hollies is going 



Stella 71 

to 51, Pembridge Gardens. Call there as often as 
you can. Could you dine with us to-morrow ? Mrs. 
Cornish will be delighted." 

But Professor Biglow had a prior engagement. I 
put Stella into the cab and let Sir Trevor ride with 
her. As I got up by the driver I called out to Jim, 
" Take care of the professor I " 

" All right ; he's pretty safe with me." 

She was won. She looked entrancingly pretty. 
Those little gloves, how charming to put a ring on 

the finger beneath — if . The veil, too, if the wind 

would blow it aside — ^yet, I sadly reflected, if it did I 
should only see the inside of a hat. 

We reached Pembridge Gardens. Mrs. Cornish 
kissed Stella through her veil and led her away. 

Frank came to me that evening in my rooms. He 
was delighted. "To think, Steddy, after «J1 you 
found her yourself! Tell me how it happened." 

I told him how Sir Trevor had been the principal 
actor. 

" That accounts for the big dog I saw at our house. 
I wondered how he came there." Then Frank grew 
very grave. 

" There's one thing I want to speak to you about. 
You won't take it amiss. My mother is in a very 
precarious state of health. Seeing, or not seeing, 
Miss Hollies has proved a great shock to her. She 
did not realize before what it meant The re- 
sponsibility is too much for her. Now I have a 
cousin, who lives in Devonshire; she has a charm- 
ing house " 

" Frank," I broke in ; " it seems to me as if, when 
I was gone, you would all be persuaded again that 



72 Stella 

Stella doesn't exist ; then Bxglow will get hold of her 
again. She can't go down to Devonshire." 

" It isn't that my mother doesn't want to. There's 
nothing she wants more than to devote herself to 
her. But it has quite broken her down. It is too 
much for her altogether. She's an old lady, you 
must remember." 

" There is no way out of it," I said. " When I am 
gone she will feel isolated. Biglow will get hold of 
her again. You will all believe she is not real." 

"That is impossible," he said, "when once you 
have heard her speak. Why shouldn't you marry 
her at once ? " 

" She would never take me." 

" I think you could make her. She has been tell- 
ing my mother how good Professor Biglow is ; how 
kind he has been to her ; how glad she is that you 
and he made it up, for she is sure you were quar« 
relling when first you came in. She said that Biglow 
didn't want her to come away, * but, of course,' she 
said, ' I had to do what Hugh told me.' " 

" It is rough on her," I said, " but it's the less of 
two evils for her. I'll ask her to marry me ; if she 
consents I can keep her out of the reach of that man. 
If I take her abroad and let her see the world, she will 
know that there is more in life than Michael Graham 
and his theories." 

"Exactly," said Frank, "travel will be the very 
thing for her ; with the people you meet casually it 
won't seem so strange for her to keep her veil down ; 
she will meet a lot of people on natural terms; get her 
a blind lady's maid, she'll feel quite at home then." 

" I wish you'd stop," I said, " you will spoil the rest 



■SI 



Stella 73 

of my humdrum existence if you go on talking like 
that ; I don't think there is a ghost of a chance." 

" Why not ? She has not been brought up to act 
for herself. I should think she would prefer you to 
Biglow." We did not know then what capacity for 
independent action lay hid in Stella, waiting for an 
opportunity to call it forth. 

The next morning as I was waiting in Mrs. 
Cornish's room the door swung open and then closed 
again ; Stella, I judged, must be there. It is a dis- 
advantage to a man to see nothing of the lady he 
means to propose to. But I was not going to run the 
risk of losing Stella again. 

"Since you went away with Mr. Biglow," I said, 
" I have been perfectly miserable. I have been 
looking all over the world for you. Don't you re- 
member what nice times we used to have together ? " 

" Yes, Hugh." 

'' You know all about me and my dear old father 
at home. You haven't forgotten it, have you ? " 

" No, Hugh." 

" I think, Stella, all our misfortunes come from not 
being frank with each other. I ought to have told 
you how much I loved you then, but instead of that 
I sent for Mrs. Cornish to come. Now, Stella, you 
know so little of the world that perhaps you ought 
to put off a little longer the one thing I want to beg 
of you. But I cannot bear to think of your being 
lost again. If you are not mine now, something tells 
me that you will never be." 

" But, Hugh, ought I not to work for Michael ?" 

" Are you sure, Stella, that you understand him 7 
I have read all his writings and they are very difficult." 



74 Stella 

" Yes, Hugh. At first I understood very well, but 
he made other discoveries that were v^ty puzzling." 

" I do not see how you can expect to understand 
him rightly without knowing much more. Now, I 
could take you out into the world. Will you marry 
me?" 

She was silent. 

" You were not happy with Mr. Biglow, were you?' 

" No 1 " she said ; " and he wanted to make me go 
to France." 

"Think of that !" I said, "just think what a little 
could have separated us I But you wouldn't go 
away, would you ? " 

" No, Hugh ; I told him I would not go away. He 
talked for a long time, and then he became very 
angry. But I didn't care a bit He is not like 
Michael or you ; he hasn't any strength." 

" Then, Stella, it is settled we will be married as 
soon as we can." 

" Oh, Hugh," she said, " I am worthless in myself, 
but through what Michael did for me I hope to be 
something to you." 

At this moment Mrs. Cornish came in. 

I held out my hand towards Stella. She put hers 
in mine. I led her to Mrs. Cornish and put both our 
hands in her hand. 

" Stella and I are going to be married." 

Mrs. Cornish started. Instead of congratulating 
us, she said to Stella, " I want to talk to you — please 
come with me ; Mr. Churton will wait a little while." 

They went upstairs. In a few minutes Mrs. 
Cornish came down. The good lady was quite 
agitated, so agitated that in view of Frank'is warning 



Stella 75 

I became alarmed But she soon recovered herself, 
and said : '* My dear Hugh, this notion of your 
marrying Stella is quite out of the question — in after 
years perhaps, but not now. She does not know 
anything. She is just marrying you, as she obeyed 
my wicked brother. She does not love you in the 
very least." 

** It is too late, Mrs. Cornish ; you should have 
warned me a year ago. The engagement is made 
now ; it would be very improper to break it off, and 
first and last I am not going to run the risk of losing 
her again." 

" Is it right for her, Hugh ? " 

" I will make it right, Mrs. Cornish." 

" You will have to be so tender with her — I am so 
afraid for her, please let her stop with me. I will try 
to undo the great wrong my brother has done " 

I took the dear old lady's hand. I am not sure 
that I did not kiss her. 

'* I know better than you what a work I am taking 
up. But for want of being ready once I nearly lost 
her. Do not press me any more ; you have said 
what you can ; just help us." 

Frank had a long talk with his mother. The result 
was that it was settled we should be married from her 
house as soon as I received news of my appointment 
Mrs. Cornish and Frank wanted to despoil themselves 
of half of their inheritance for Stella. But I would 
not hear of it. If she had had money in her own 
right, I should have been glad, not because it would 
have added anything to her in my %yts^ but because 
I could have made a fairer setting for my jewel in the 
eyes of the world. But in reality I did not think 



76 Stella 

much about the setting, for my jewel was in- 
visible. 

A discovery I made at this time filled me with 
uneasiness. If Stella had a retiring, shrinking nature, 
then I could hope to pass along the path of life with- 
out much difficulty — the less attention she attracted 
the better. 

fiut I found she was awfully fond of talking to Mrs. 
Cornish, Frank, C , when he called, which was 
pretty often ; to every one the little chatterbox went 
on talking. How Michael Graham and she kept it 
up I can only conjecture. 

At length the long expected offer of a post in the 
Chinese customs came. To my old father I wrote the 
news of my marriage, asking what a son can ask a 
father on such an occasion. He promptly sent me a 
round sum which made it quite easy for me, even if 
we had to journey twice round the world. I pur- 
posely delayed my letter till it was too late for my 
sisters to come. I could imagine Kate, their spokes- 
man, putting up her eyeglass and saying with her 
drawl, " Hugh's wife — we like her very much ; that 
is, we should like her if we could see her." 

We were married the day before the vessel sailed. 
I did not know beforehand how I should get over 
the difficulty of seeing where to put the ring on. She 
had a very copious veil, many folds of it, and such few 
of my friends who were there distinctly saw her face 
underneath, so they all told Mrs. Cornish, Great is 
the power of imagination ! When the moment for 
the ring difficulty came I was greatly relieved. Stella 
had condescended to dip her hand in the family flour 
box for the occasion. That was the first time I had 
seen any trace of her. 



Stella 77 

We joined the vessel at Southampton. Those 
passengers who came on board at Brindisi are like 
visitors. They find all coteries already formed, and 
only fall into their appropriate places after a good 
deal of comment and criticism. I hoped from the 
first to get a few pleasant acquaintances round Stella, 
who would entertain her and ward off impertinent 
curiosity. 

My first effort was singularly unfortunate. I can 
understand the man who said he commenced a long 
voyage talking like a philosopher and ended it with 
the conversation of a lady's maid. Trifles are the 
only things that exist after a three weeks* voyage. 

On the back of a deck chair in large gold letters I 
saw inscribed, "Ponsonby Smith, colonel, 2nd Life 
Guards." 

**I think you've heard my name," I said, intro- 
ducing myself to the occupant, a man of magnificent 
proportions, " Hugh Churton." 

" Yes," he answered, " I've often heard of you from 
my brother ; glad you're on board ; excuse my not 
recognising you, but I don't think we've met" 

" No," I said ; " I knew you by the legend on your 
chair." 

Mrs. Ponsonby Smith received me very frigidly. 
Her husband had laughed at her way of decorating 
the chair with his full description, and she took my 
innocent remark as a piece of ridicule. She tried to 
start some ill-natured gossip about Stella. 

Little Lorrimer, who always repeated her remarks, 
stopped short once with the words " incurable 
squint," when I joined a little group of which he 
was the centre. Stella enjoyed the air, the movement. 



78 Stella 

the conversations — ^which never grew deep enough to 
rouse the fair defender of Michael Graham. 

The two most curious individuals on board were 
De Ivanhoe and Clargis Romano. They loomed 
about in impossible costumes, tried to talk to every- 
body, and drove us out of the smoking room, till we 
voted that they must be suppressed. We soon found 
out that they were originally, the one a music-hall 
singer, the other a theatrical agent, but had now 
entered the service of a patent medicine vendor. 
They were to be the pioneers in the East of 
" Sequah's Prairie Oil." The gilded chariot and all 
the rest was in bulk. They were refrained by the 
terms of their passage from vending their oil. We 
had their off-business conversation. 

Seymour of the Tokio legation amused us one day 
by a report of a conversation. He was by himself 
one day on deck, when De Ivanhoe came up and 
said, " Well, sir, what do you think of my wife ? " 
Seymour did not know what the man was after, 
whether he was going to pick a quarrel with him or 
to confide some grief. He replied very slowly, 
" Well — in what way do you mean ? " 

" Well, sir, what do you think of her clothes ? " 

" Very, very — neat," said Seymour, with the adroit- 
ness of a diplomat, making an answer which should 
not verge on dangerous admiration, and yet at the 
same time should be acceptable to the presumably 
somehow ruffled feelings of the husband. 

" Yes, sir," answered De Ivanhoe ; " my wife is the 
best dressed woman on board. Call those ladies I 
There is more stylishness in one of my wife's dresses 
than in all their rigs." Mrs. De Ivanhoe used to 



Stella 79 

appear day after day in a new dinner dress, whereas 
the rest of the ladies reserved themselves for battue 
of more select game. 

The De Ivanhoes occupied the state room next 
mine. One night I heard them talking, in voices 
evidently intended to carry far, — 

" What do you think it is, dear ? " said she. 

" Oh, it's an eruption, love," he replied. 

" Could you cure it, dear ? " 

''The prairie oil would yank it out of her in a 
couple of days. " 

" Why don't you tell him ; then she wouldn't 
always have to wear that veil." 

"The Company won't allow it — wait till I meet 
them on shore." 

"Do you understand what Michael meant about 
the * path ' ? " asked Stella of me the next morn- 
ing. 

" It seems to me that it is much more difficult to 
understand what he meant in reference to matter 
than with regard to ourselves," I answered. " Don't 
you feel it would be very difficult to explain to the 
people we meet here ? " 

" So difficult I " she said ; " there is so much that 
is new, so many different kinds of people and such 
different ways of thinking." 

" You must get to know them a great deal better 
before you could make them understand." Then I 
asked her if she had heard what De Ivanhoe had said 
the night before. I was afraid his voice had reached 
her. 

" Yes, Hugh," she said, laughing ; " he really thinks 
the Prairie Oil will do everything." 



8o Stella 

" I think, Stella, we'll stop over a boat at Colombo ; 
you will enjoy seeing a really tropical climate." 

We were fortunate enough to secure a bungalow 
some distance outside the city. It was surrounded 
by a high and impenetrable hedge of cactus. We 
sent the servants to find quarters outside, so that 
here Stella found seclusion like that she was used to 
at Beechwood. Sir Trevor kept guard. Our maid 
was invaluable ; she was completely blind, and 
counted for no one. 

The man is a poor creature who cannot gpive his 
wife a warm and thorough approval ; it is the gar- 
den ground of the heart in which she can develop 
properly. Of course to me Stella's transparency was 
an aberration ; my hope of complete happiness lay in 
her growing out of it. But there were many things 
to be considered. To alter a condition involving, 
as Frank put it, every physiological unit in her body, 
must be a process involving more or less danger — I 
could not tell how serious. And unless she was 
thoroughly happy and contented, this danger would 
be intensified. Then there was the question of her 
will. She had not found her independent self. She 
was so wrapped up in what Michael Graham had 
taught her that for me to disapprove of the con- 
dition to which he had reduced her would seem like 
a disapproval of her altogether. And I was every- 
thing to her ; she had no other friend or companion 
— I was all the world to her. I was resolved that she 
should wish to alter for her own sake ; and in all this 
I was not pretending, for she was so much above me 
that everything connected with her was lovely and 
admirable to me. Even this transparency I looked 



Stella 8 1 

upon as something beautiful, but very inconvenient. 
I was not prepared, however, for the thoroughness of 
my success. 

One afternoon I came in hot and dusty. She 
called out, " Hugh, won't you have a cup of tea ? " 
"Yes," I said; "TU come directly." But before I 
moved a little cup of tea wafted along, coming to- 
wards me. I sat up and saw, as well as the cup of 
tea, a little glass vessel— like a beaker, as they call 
the thin glass cups they use in laboratories. 

" What is that, Stella ? " 

" Drink it," she said. 

'\ But what is it ? " 

'* It doesn't taste at all ; it is the best drink in the 
world." 

" Is It a medicine ? " 

" No ; it is an altering drink." 

" What will it alter, Stella ? " 

"Your coefficient of refraction, Hugh; it will 
gradually make it equal to one." 

Now, during my walks about the city, I had 
occasionally seen the faces of some men I had known 
in London, who had come out to posts in the Cinga- 
lese civil service. They had not recognised me, and 
this I had put down to their not expecting to see me 
there. They would hardly look carefully enough to 
distinguish me from any other stranger, while I was 
on the look-out for any one I knew. But it now 
flashed upon me that I might have been getting 
transparent all this while — that perhaps my face was 
a sort of mist. 

" Good Heavens, Stella ! " I exclaimed, "you haven't 
been giving me any of that drink before, have you ? " 

G 



82 Stella 

" No, Hugh, not without your knowledge." 
" What do you want me to drink it for ? " 
" You see, Hugh, if you drink it you will become 
transparent ; we shall be like one another. Won't 
that be nice ? " 

" Stella," I said, " take that rubbish away." 
It was more than I had bargained for. To have a 
transparent wife is one thing, but to be made trans- 
parent oneself is another. However, I had cause to 
be satisfied. If to make me transparent she thought 
of using a concoction, perhaps she kept herself trans- 
parent by using a similar preparation. If only the 
bottle would get broken on our voyages ! 

As soon as I judged that she was sitting down by 
my side I said, — 

" Whatever did you think of giving me that drink 
for ? " 

"Well, Hugh, you are just not quite perfect. If 
you drank that you would " 

" Would what, Stella ? " 

"Well, Hugh, aren't you just a little bit — a little- 
violent sometimes ? " 

" Yes, Stella ; it's a horrid fault, and you must help 
me to conquer it. Whenever I get angry, you make 
a sign to me, and I'll become calm — that is, if I can 
see it." 
" Oh, Hugh, I can say something to you." 
" Very well, but perhaps in my heat I shan't hear 
you." 

" Hadn't you better drink some of that " 

" No, Stella, don't mention it ; it isn't the right 
remedy for my faults. I don't want to be seen and 
looked at; I don't think about it at all. Michael 



Stella 83 

Graham invented that drink for girls, not for boys ; 
he would have invented something to prevent them 
from grabbing things and fighting, if he had turned 
his attention in that direction." 

'* That's true," said Stella ; " how wise you are, 
Hugh ! " 

" No, Stella, it wouldn't do for me to drink that 
fluid at all. I think you overrate the effect of the 
liquid on the body, and think too little of its effect 
on the souL Michael Graham used it to make your 
mind good. Now you don't care about being seen, 
do you ? " 

" No, I can't bear being seen." 

" By me or anybody else, it's just the same ; is it, 
Stella ? " 

"Yes, just the same. Why should there be any 
difference, Hugh?" 

"Well, Stella," I said, "you see this drink has 
overcome your moral weakness, and I don't think it 
is necessary any more. If you could, you should 
become like other people, and show them that, al- 
though they are visible, they needn't let it affect 
their souls." 

" Hugh, I couldn't bear it ; besides, Michael wants 
me as an example of his philosophy. Think how 
much pains he took with me. Hugh, he was a great 
man. I must always do as he wanted me to." 

Thus I learnt something good and something bad. 
She warded off opacity by a preparation of some 
kind, of that I was nearly sure. But she didn't love 
me. If she loved me, or had begun to love me, she 
would either hate more to be visible to me than to 
other people, or else hate it less. Then the time might 



84 Stella 

come when I should count for something alongside 
of Michael Graham. 

It was a complicated problem. Here was I with 
my life's happiness at stake ; with the most charming, 
the sweetest girl in the whole world, in this awfully- 
tied up condition of mind and body. 

Nature, will it heal her ; love, will it restore her ? 

" Steddy, old man," a voice seemed to whisper to 
me, "give her time; don't hurry where you don't 
know. You've got to be father and mother, and 
school friends and young men and women, lover, and 
husband, and bridegroom to her. Your devil is 
Michael Graham, your heaven Stella's perfected 
arms." 

As you have already surmised, I had persuaded 
Stella to wear something of the conventional garb 
while we were travelling. Her idea was that, if she 
wore an}rthing at all, it should be as loosely fitting as 
possible. She affected long cloaks and mantles. 

But I was ably seconded by Ann, who had been a 
clever dressmaker, and still in her blindness retained 
enough of her skill to make a few well-fitting gowns. 
When the wind blew, or when the heat made Stella 
forget to wrap herself up, I gazed on a figure not so 
slight as you would imagine, but lithe and active, like 
a girl of the open air and hunting field would have 
been. 

Indeed, it was no part of Michael Graham's plan 
to rob her of vigour or grace, but to rob the sight of 
it from my eyes. 

At Hong Kong a reception was prepared for us of 
the very kind I should have most wished to avoid. 

Mrs. Ponsonby Smith had arrived by an earlier 



Stella 85 

boat, and in the course of a call on one of the ladies 
of the place happened to talk about us. 

"Poor Mr. Churton," she said, "is coming here. 
His wife, you know, squints most dreadfully ; she 
always has to wear a veil ; she isn't presentable ; we 
were very sorry for them. He was obliged to bring 
her out here, where it doesn't matter so much." 

The idea that not being presentable did not matter 
in the centre of the fashion of the Far East had 
never occurred to the ladies of the Peak. From this 
and sundry other remarks of Mrs. Ponsonby Smith's, 
they discovered that she was desperately envious ; 
that she had been completely cut out during the 
whole voyage by a girl who didn't even need to 
show her face. Nobody on board had paid the 
slightest attention to her, they said, and she revenged 
herself by spreading these reports. 

To account for Stella's hiding her face, they made 
out that I was a monster of jealousy — a regular 
Turk, and they determined, as soon as Stella ar- 
rived, to teach her to assert herself. 

Thus, although I had purposely brought out no 
letters of introduction, I was greeted most cordially 
by the few officers I knew, and when I put in an 
appearance at the club, was introduced, before I 
could make my escape, to at least a dozen gentle- 
men, who promised themselves and their wives the 
pleasure of calling on me and mine. 

We could not escape them always ; besides, Stella 
had not the least desire to withhold herself from the 
world. She wanted to talk and not to be seen; / 
wanted her to be seen and talk, to keep up a kind 
of balance between the two. 



86 Stella 

"When Lady Des Voeuxa calls," I said, "you must 
not keep your veil down. You can do it when you 
call there, but not when she comes here." 

" Then," said Stella, " she will see just how I am^ 
and people will ask you more than you can tell them 
about Michael." 

" No, Stella ; you must powder or paint." 

"How can you !" she said, and went out of the room. 

The fact is — I only got to understand it by re- 
peated experience — that she really felt as if being 
seen was — she felt about it as a well-bred lady 
would about exposing more of her person than 
society permits. It was not a thing to be argued 
about or discussed ; it was simply impossible. In 
Stella's case, however, there was no society whose 
verdict might alter her views. Her etiquette was 
settled by Michael Graham. 

" So you are married, Churton, are you ? " said an 
old Blackheath friend, who had been ploughed a few 
years before myself "Lucky fellow, you are sure 
to come in for the good things in the service. The 
chiefs as obstinate as sin — never listens to any 
representations ; but he likes to drop in at the ladies*^ 
tea-parties. Never heard of a man with a pretty 
wife being stuck away at one of the outposts." 

This determined me. It was evident that with the 
community so much interested in Stella — ^although 
the reason for their interest was not known to me at 
the time — it would be impossible to keep our secret 
for very long. As soon as I could I obtained an 
interview with Sir Richard, and begged to be ap-r 
pointed to one of the remoter stations. 

He received me with great kindness, but seemed 



Stella 87 

surprised at my request " Hearing that you were 
married," he said, "I took some pains to make a 
vacancy for you where you would find congenial 
society. But since you prefer it, you can certainly 
go to Wanfoo, the place I designed for you at first 
You had better go by the City of Aberdeen^ accord- 
ing to my previous arrangement for you. She leaves 
in a week." 

It is a curious contrast to pass from a P. & O. liner 
to a Chinese coasting steamer. There we were 
amidst a crowd of Europeans; on the City of 
Aberdeen there were a handful of us amidst a mass 
of celestials. 

Our first officer was a Swede. Like many old sea-, 
faring men, he had lost all disposition to talk. He 
told me that at home he would sit silent the whole 
evening long, his wife beside him silent too. Judg- 
ing from Stella, I imagine that he had subjected her 
to a long course of discipline. We had books. That 
long study of Michael Graham's philosophy had 
given me a taste for literature that was not by him. 
Stella was delighted in everything ; the amount of 
ideas that passed through her little head in a day 
was extraordinary ; some of them, I hoped, might 
help to counteract her early training. The officers 
were all good fellows. If Mrs. Churton kept her veil 
down, they did not inquire why. If they wanted to 
look at a female face, they had their photographs. 
They could do Sunday duty — the sailor's expression 
for turning over tht cartes-de-visite of the girls he has 
left behind at various ports. Now that the gine of 
other passengers was removed, there was not a 



88 Stella 

single irksome moment ; indeed, at one time the 
interest became too intense. 

Bolton, our second officer, looked like a boy ; he 
was the smallest man I have ever seen filling a re- 
sponsible position at sea. But he was the most 
active and resourceful of all our company. At night 
he would bring out his mandolin. Sometimes, when 
it was very dark, Stella would take it from him and 
play and sing. 

" Don't you think. Captain," I said one evening, as 
we were taking a turn together, " that there are very 
few of us compared to the number of Chinese we 
carry ? " 

" Not a bit," he said. " They are peaceful enough 
— a Chinaman doesn't think of anything but trade." 

" But there are many pirates." 

"Yes, but they are only formidable to junks, not 
to a steamer like this." 

We had plenty of accommodation on board, occu- 
pying two large state rooms on the main deck. The 
saloon was rather small, and a narrow passage led 
from it to our rooms. We had engaged a Chinese 
amah to wait on Ann. Ann was quite an object of 
reverence to the Chinese ; she was blind, and the 
unfortunate girl was deeply pitted with the small- 
pox. The combination of these misfortunes seems 
to affect the Chinese mind as proof of the special 
favour of Heaven. 

One of the most conspicuous objects forward was 
a large joss. It was lashed just outside the engine 
room, its owner-worshippers having begged for it to 
remain on deck. It was lai^e, but very light — it was 
not solid wood, but was hollowed out inside. 



Stella 89 

Stella and I were discussing its appearance one 
day, when two or three coolies came and began 
knocking their heads down before it 

I felt Stella's hand tremble on my arm. " Oh, it 
IS horrible, horrible," I heard her say. " I do not 
know what they mean, but it's something horrible." 

" Come back, dear," I said. " I did not know you 
would be so shocked at a bit of superstition." 

" It is not that," she said, '' but it is some horrible 
«vil — I believe they are going to murder us all." 

It was curious her chiming in so exactly with my 
apprehensions. I had a talk with the chief officer. 

^Not the least danger," he said; ''these are just 
ordinary coolies going north. We carry them by the 
thousand. There are fewer on board than usual. 
Besides, they have no arms, while we are well pro- 
vided ; and there are the steam-pipes." 

But the voyage was spoilt for us. Stella spent all 
her time in trying to understand the amah. In a 
few days she made a certain amount of progress. 
As for me, I kept an active watch most of the night, 
walking up and down, keeping my ^yt'& open while 
the water flew past. 

It was near dawn. I was in the bows, looking 
ahead at a light which showed from the yard-arm of 
some native vessel in the distance, when behind me 
there was the noise of a scuffle, a struggle, a couple 
of shots, and then a rush and strange, outlandish 
shouting. 

It had come at last. Stella had been in the right 
A number of pirates had come on board under the 
guise of labourers, and they were trying to seize the 
ship. The attack was too sudden and well concerted 



90 Stella 

to be resisted — when I got back to the main hatch- 
way resistance was well nigh over. The engine-room 
was full of the villains. 

Fighting clear of those that attacked me, I ran to 
the saloon. In front of me I saw a couple of men 
making for Stella's room. I could not reach them, 
for I was seized and then secured in an effective way. 
To make short work, they simply drove a couple of 
spike nails through my arms into the woodwork ot 
the passage. But Stella had a defender. Sir Trevor 
had one of the men by the throat, and would have 
dragged them both down had not the other stabbed 
him again and again. 

Trevor out of the way, there was nothing to pre- 
vent them forcing the door. But to my surprise it 
opened. The Chinese girl came out. One of the 
men, stepping forward, stumbled and fell, as if he 
were tripped up. Some others came up, and they 
searched the state rooms right and left, but there was 
no sign of Stella. Soon convincing themselves that 
there was no one in that part of the ship, and satisfy- 
ing themselves that I was securely fastened, they 
went away to look for plunder. 

They went to work systematically. I could hear 
them overhauling the cargo. By the grating of a 
vessel at the side of ours, I judged that the light I 
had seen was a signal. The seizure had been care- 
fully planned, and there were junks waiting to take 
off the booty. 

But suddenly the confusion began again. The 
Chinamen were excitedly running from side to side. 
To my intense surprise and alarm, I heard Stella's 
voice. She was singing — singing in her loudest 



Stella 91 

tones. Had the poor girl gone mad with terror f 
But the notes were not agitated or hurried. She was 
simply singing extremely well. As soon as she had 
got to the end of one operatic air she began another. 

The mystery of the Chinamen's confusion was 
soon explained, for shortly I saw the joss coming 
along, moving in the air, flying, and making motions 
in all directions, petrifying the Chinamen by his 
miraculous activity. Then I understood that Stella 
had taken advantage of the delay occasioned by Sir 
Trevor's defence. 

She had found no difficulty in slipping past the 
ruffians who went to secure her, and she it was who 
brought the joss on to the scene. 

She chose her songs with remarkable discernment ; 
for the music which the Chinese think the most 
ravishingly sweet is the most bewildering and terror- 
inspiring in our ears. And so to their ears nothing 
could be more uncanny and full of deathly terror 
than our love songs. It was " Home, Sweet Home "' 
as she approached me. 

" Take that hammer at my feet," I said ; " go into- 
the steward's room. The nails have gone right 
through." 

She went into the room ; soon I felt the welcome 
tap and the loosening of the nails — I was free. 

Although the Chinese were astonished at the joss,, 
they did not show any signs of loosening hold of 
their prey. 

"Get them all the money you can," said Stella^ 
" then perhaps they will go." 

I went to the purser's room. He was inside. " Let 
me in," I said. 



92 Stella 

" Is there any one about ? " 

" No," I said ; " make haste." 

He opened the door wide enough for me to slip 
through. He was standing there. He had put his 
pistol down to let me in. 

" Give me the money/* I said ; " I believe I can get 
them to go." 

" No," he said ; " that money goes down with the 
:ship— they will only murder us afterwards if they 
get it." 

There was no time to argue — I took up his re- 
volver and pointed it at him. '' I am going to get 
•out of this mess in my own way," I said ; " you've 
got us into it." 

"That's true," he said— " there's the coin." He 
knew that if he hesitated I should have murdered him. 

We took each of us a handle of the chest ; it was 
as much as we could lift. He went backwards. I 
<:ould see the joss and followed it. We put the money 
down in the saloon before a man who seemed to be 
the leader. 

We did not sec where the box went, for we were 
instantly thrown down and most cruelly bound, and 
then thrown down into the lower deck amongst a 
heap of other men similarly tied. 

The sounds above continued, I should say for an 
liour, then gradually grew less. 

" Here we are till she sinks," said a voice. 

" Who are you ?" I asked. 

" Bolton." 

" Why should she sink ? " 

" Of course they've scuttled her ; don't you hear the 
^ater pouring in ? I suppose they didn't want to 



Stella 95 

cut us about, in case our bodies should be found. But 
she's going down all the same." 

At that moment I felt the ropes which bound me 
gently pulled — ^a moment later they loosened. A 
knife was cutting through them. 

As soon as I was loose, I seized the knife from 
Stella's hand and cut Bolton free. He drew out his 
knife and we cut the others loose. Then Bolton's 
qualities came out. The captain and the chief being 
too badly wounded to move, he took the command. 
He allowed no one even to stir. He crept up quietly, 
and saw the junks a short distance away. 

No one of us showed himself on deck, but the 
engineers crept down and made up the boiler fires, 
which had sunk low. Such of the holes as we could 
get at we plugged with bolts of wood. Of course^ 
with the junks so close, it was no use doing anything 
till we had got up steam. It was a race between the 
water and the fires. But there had not been time 
for the fires to sink very k)w — the pirates had not 
thought of dousing them. 

After an interminable time, as we were at our dif- 
ferent posts, some of us trying in vain to patch up a 
started plate, the rest attending to the fires, we heard 
the welcome pulsation of the engine. But the City 
of Aberdeen did not begin to move. 

Bolton shouted to me to come on deck. Already 
a bright stream of water was flowing from the skup* 
pers — the pumping engines were at work ! 

The screw did not revolve till the ship floated 
clear. The junks were about a mile away. Far off 
was the dim line of the shore ; the leadsman in the 
bows sang out, " Twelve." 



94 Sulla 

Bolton was on the bridge working the ship. 

Her head began to go round towards the junks. 

" What does he mean to do ? " said Stella's voice 
at my side. 

" He means to run down those junks/' I replied. 

" Oh, Hugh, I promised them safety and money if 
they would spare our lives." 

" You did ? " 

" I did, or the joss did ; it's all the same." 

" They couldn't understand you." 

** Yes, I know enough for that — I learnt how to say 
that" 

" Well," I answered, " I suppose we must stick by 
your word. Where is that joss ? " 

" It jumped after them into their last boat" 

I went on the bridge. 

" Bolton," I said, " I am not going to stand any 
more fooling ; you've precious nearly got us all 
murdered. I demand that you stand on a straight 
course." 

He didn't answer me ; we were nearly pointing at 
the junks. 

I seized the telegraph. 

" Drop that, or Til put you in irons," he said. 

Just then the doctor came up and whispered some- 
thing to him. 

" Mr. Churton," said Bolton, " I beg your pardon ; 
I won't run down those junks unless you wish it There 
is very little wind, they can't get away. Please, sir, 
go down and have your wounds seen to." 

"You promise not to go after the junks unless I 
consent } " 

" I promise." 



Stella 95 

As I turned to go down Bolton put his hand to his 
face. 

The doctor took me down. The captain was lying 
on one of the saloon tables — his leg was broken. One 
of the engineers was there looking dazed ; he had 
been rendered unconscious by a blow on the head, 
but had just come to. 

When my wounds were bandaged the doctor said, 
■*' Drink this," pouring out a stiff glass of whisky. 

" That's rather more than my share," I said. 

" Drink it up ; you've enough to stand," he said. 

I drank it up. Then the doctor fairly broke 
down. 

" It's you that need the whisky, not I," I said. 

" Stop ! " he cried ; " you must be told. Everybody 
on board except your wife ! " 

I started. 

" She must have jumped overboard — she is lost." 

He spoke in such grief that a sudden constriction 
seized my chest But at that moment the empty 
whisky tumbler by me tinkled, as if some one flicked 
it with a finger nail. I knew Stella's little sign. 

" She's only hiding," I said ; ** she'll come out by- 
and-by." 

Captain Smith broke out, " No, sir ; every corner 
has been searched for the lady. God bless her ! She 
is nowhere." 

" Now," cried the doctor, " we'll run those junks 
■down." 

'' Ask Bolton to come here a minute," I said. 

It took a few minutes for Bolton to get replaced. 
As he came into the saloon Stella appeared in the 
passage in her nicest dress, her gloves on as usual. 



96 Stella 

*' Am I too late to help, doctor ? " she said, in a 
perfectly composed manner. *' How are his arms f 
Are they very bad ? " 

The doctor gave one gasp. Then he broke out in- 
a frantic cheer. It was re-echoed all over the ship as 
loudly as the united voices of a dozen Europeans 
could effect it. 

When I went on deck the ship was turning. We 
were not very far from a junk, in the stem of which 
the joss, supported at the end of a pole, was waving 
wildly in the air. We cleared them by a few yards. 

Our pumps kept the water from gaining seriously, 
and soon Bolton had a sail drawn under the bows 
and looped up on each side. This enabled us to get 
at the started plate, and we stuffed a bag of cotton 
waste into it. The next day we met a Russian 
cruiser. The commander sent a couple of artificers on 
board, and they built up a false side for us in a few 
hours. He likewise spared us a few of his stokers, 
as it was absolutely impossible for us to keep up the 
fires without assistance Then he went in chase of 
the pirates, but I am not aware that he ever caught 
them. No one knew how we got loose. The kindly 
sailors had a joke that Stella knew more about a ship- 
than they did, for she could find a place to hide in 
that no mortal sailor knew. What part she played 
they will never know, unless you happen to meet 
them and tell them. 

We committed Sir Trevor's body to the deep. 
Stella was inconsolable But I could hardly be sorry 
for him. He is in the dogs' Walhalla — in that part 
of it where one dog can say to another, " I left from 
a bear hunt," or, '' I came here from a row with the 



Stella 97 

Chinese." What better things can any dog or man 
hope to say ? 

It was not easy at my post to find rural solitude^ 
but we obtained the best approximation by renting a 
mandarin's country villa. There every day I returned 
after the working hours to be welcomed by a stream 
of light pouring forth from the windows, or a song 
wafted on the breeze. But light and song were 
not all I wanted. Still Michael Graham and his 
bequest of invisibility remained — even there, where 
the pressure of the myriads of an alien race gather 
all chance sojourners, however incongruous, into a 
friendly union. Strange, enchanting Stella, a spark 
of a different fire from the smouldering animations 
of the East — was she as different also from me? 
She was perpetually interested and pleased with our 
little society, with the ways of the people, with the 
natives. She learned to speak to them with extra- 
ordinary rapidity, and assured me that the ladies of 
our district had by no means the limited intelligence 
and confined life we ascribed to them. 

But as for myself, the climate, or whatever it was, 
made me grow irritable. There was enough at the 
office to occupy the most captious mind. But even 
when I reached home I was content with nothing. 

One acquisition which I had long desired came to 
me in a singular way. Although it gave me great 
inward satisfaction, it hardly improved matters at 
all ; an increasing irritability crept on me which 
made me wonder that Stella could endure to be shut 
up with such a brute. The acquisition was a wedding 
present from Biglow. He called it a wedding resti- 
tution, as he said he hardly expected that I should 

H 



9$ Sulla 

be willing to receive a wedding present from him. 
It was the mass of passages relating to Stella which 
had been abstracted from Michael Graham's writings. 
One passage; which came oddly enough under the 
subject of religion, seemed to indicate that the writer 
contemplated the possibility of Stella at some time 
assuming the normal aspect But I did not choose 
to show it to her. I preferred to win her against, 
rather than with, the aid of my enemy. I merely 
told her that I had found the most reasonable idea in 
the whole of the philosophy. 

The mass of pages lay before me. I expected 
Stella would want to see them, but she did not show 
any curiosity. When they were put away she said, — 

''What a lovely place you have brought me to, 
Hugh ! I am so happy here." 

"The shooting is beastly," I said; "paddy fields 
all day, and no bag at the end ; the wretched natives 
lurk behind the reeds on purpose, and if you pepper 
one, a whole village turns out to stone you." 

" Hugh, you never come back without something. 
Think of the splendid wild geese you brought home 
yesterday ; they will last us a week." 

** I suppose it is a bit of sinfulness in them to put 
on all that colour and show ? " 

She didn't answer this, but said, " Mrs. Tsen Yu 
came here to-day ; I could talk quite easily to hen 
She says she wants to learn English." 

'*It is extraordinary that you like this place," I 
said ; " you wanted so much to tell Mr. Graham's 
doctrines to the civilized world. How can you be 
quite happy in this out-of-the-way comer ? " 

" Oh, here," she said, " I know I am doing a little 



Stella 99 

good. I like the people and they like us ; there is 
nothing strange and rough — I can just be myself." 

" It is a delusion, that doing good," I said. 

" How, Hugh ? " 

** Why, you'll soon be doing something mysterious, 
and make them all believe more strongly in their 
idolatry. When you took up Biglow you only made 
some crack-brained creatures crackier. I don't know 
that anybody was the better for it ; I don't see how 
you can do any real good as you are." 

She didn't answer. 

" You might say," I went on, " that you did some 
good on the steamer ; of course that was to one's 
advantage, but it was bad on the whole. You in- 
culcated those pirates with a degree of superstition it 
will take hundreds of missionaries to eradicate. That 
moving joss will go all over China, and be a bar to 
the dissemination of truth. You little contemplate 
how, wherever you go, people will be plunged into the 
blackest superstition." 

" Hugh, I don't think it is so bad as that" 

" What are those men doing there ? " I said, seeing 
a couple of coolies who were moving some trees in the 
garden. 

''They are making a tennis ground Hugh; then 
your friends can have a game when they come up to 
see you." 

" I wanted those trees particularly for the shade," 
I said. 

She didn't answer. I saw the door open and then 
close. I thought she had left the room. 

When the door closed I put my head on my hands. 
This was not the sort of thing I had looked forward: 



lOO Stella 

to. Here I was finding fault with ever]rthing she 
did, behaving like a brute. Involuntarily I said, 
'' Great God, grant that some day she may bear my 
image as faithfully in her heart as she does Michael's. 
Do not let me ever forget that she is her tender, 
dear self." 

Suddenly I felt two arms flung about me. Her 
lips pressed close to mine. 

'* Hugh, dear, I will do as you want I am your 
very own — all yours." 

From that day she paid no more heed to the secret 
which, whatever it was, held her from me, the im- 
molated victim of a confused philosophy. 

You have seen the angels' faces, where the old 
painters pourtraying the new Jerusalem let the Divine 
love reveal itself for the first time through their 
colours — ^it was such a face that began to shine on 
me. 

Every day, when I came back from the customs, I 
could ask no greater joy than to watch where, as it 
were from a halo, my gracious Stella became real to 
me. I cannot say that she had shown any great un- 
likeness in her behaviour from that which any other 
loving, faithful girl would have shown, brought up in 
her peculiar circumstances ; but she seemed to become 
more natural to me. Those impulses and that 
interest in trifles which is so charming in women 
seemed to grow stronger. I was pleased when she 
asked me about the papers I had received from 
Biglow, for I thought it somewhat unreal for her not 
to want to know about them. 

^ What was that passage you said you liked best 
of all, Hugh?" 



■^■rssSH u. . 



Sulla lOi 

^ It comes strangely enough at the end of a pas- 
sage about religion ; the first part is in the usual 
style, the last piece is what I like ; " and I read it 
her: — 

** As the light of certainty spreads around physical 
research, the old beliefs tend to disappear, so little 
capable as they are of objective proof. With a feeling 
akin to despair we see crumbling away the fabric we 
had reared to save the clasp of brotherhood, love 
strong in death, human personality itself. 

'' But is not the cause obvious ? We start with a pre- 
supposition — we start with a limited notion of sub- 
stance. Naturally, with a limit set to the possibilities 
of matter, we find no adequate representation in 
material terms for much that we feel, apprehending it 
directly outside t;he artificial sphere of thought. But 
to conceive no adequate representation in matter is 
to conceive as unreal, as impossible. 

" One turn and the whole difficulty falls away. We 
have erred as often before, in assuming as an ultimate 
what is merely a relative term. We must explore 
the higher matter, that to which our matter, as we 
conceive it, is but an abstraction. Entering on this 
path we become aware that in religion we have an 
intimation of realities, which, from the most concrete 
and physical point of view, are infinitely important to 
us. I can only illustrate the view which comes after 
the first few steps in this direction by comparing the 
history of man, in respect to religion, to what might 
very well happen if by chance some man meeting my 
Stella, without a word of guidance, were to become 
aware of her, and, imagining her to be a spirit, to love 
her. She would seem unreal to him, having no share 



102 Stella 

in the greater part of his life. But gradually manifes- 
tation after manifestation of reality would come, till at 
last he found a helpmate as real as anything in his 
life before, but infinitely more important to him." 

" Hugh," she said, " if I had only been a clever 
woman, instead of an uneducated girl." 

** But, Stella, you are not uneducated ; you know a 
great deal." * -. " ... 

" I tried to study, but it was so interrupted ! It 
will be very convenient," she added, looking at her 
hand where it rested, visible now, even to the delicate 
finger tips. 

" Of course it will, it must have been awfully in- 
convenient." 

" I didn't think it so ; but once I did. You know 
Michael got a gentleman to come down from London 
to give me lessons on the piano — he came once or 
twice. Then one day he wouldn't give me a lesson, 
but went out of the room. I heard him talking to 
Michael quite fiercely. He said he would not be 
mocked ; he would not teach a girl with gloves on." 

It was so much easier to talk to Stella when I could 
see her. One thing I did not mention to her : my 
old father had been writing to me to come back. My 
brother having come into some property from distant 
relatives, fresh family arrangements had been made. 
He wanted me to come back and keep up the old 
place. But I did not like to take the old house and 
give up the horses, give up the position he had held 
in the country. It seemed better to be making 
money in China than to be struggling to make both 
ends meet at home. Stella, I knew, would want me 
to do what would please my father best She had. 



Stella 103 

simply from hearing me talk of him, a touching 
devotion to him. 

Thinking of the question of money, I said, " I am 
always surprised that you could have borne to stay 
with that venal Biglow, making money out of Michael 
Graham and your peculiarity." 

She opened her ^yt:^ very wide. "Why, Hugh, 
we spent a great deal of money." 

" You spent a great deal of money ? Where did 
you get it from ? I didn't know Biglow had any." 

"But, Hugh, every month I spent two hundred 
pounds, and he spent as much more, for he said we 
would pay equally." 

" Wherever did you get the money from ? " 
By writing on a bit of paper — Michael Graham 
taught me how." 

" Show me." 

She took a piece of notepaper, and wrote :— 

" Wanfoo, August 29/A, 1889. 
" Pay to bearer one hundred pounds. 

"Stella Hollies. 
"To Child's Bank, London." 

" That's not your right name," I said. 

" No — I know it is not ; but I have not written to 
tell them I was married." 

"Do you mean to say they honoured that?" I 
asked. 

" Of course, Hugh. Michael told me not to spend 
niore than two hundred pounds a month, unless I 
wanted to buy anything expensive : then I was to go 
to Mr. Underwood in the City." 



104 Stella 

"Have you been to him? How does he know 
you ? " 

^ He knows me by my voice, and by my writing. 
He is such a kind man; but last time I went he 
would not give me any money." 

" Why not ? " 

*' You see, Hugh, Mr. Biglow thought it would be 
a good thing to found a college for the study of 
Michael Graham's works — not for young students, 
you know, but when they had finished their college 
courses. He wanted me to give eight thousand 
pounds, and he would give eight thousand pounds and 
start it" 

'' So Mr. Underwood would not let you have that 
money ? " 

^ No, he said he would not ; and he told me to send 
Mr. Biglow to him." 

The sacred hunger for money, I thought, is the 
cause of most good things. If Biglow had been 
content with drawing that two hundred a month, he 
might have gone on indefinitely. But he tried to get 
an extra thousand out of the bishop, and gave me a 
clue just in time. 

I found, on communicating with Mr. Underwood, 
that Stella had a moderate fortune in her own right, 
derived chiefly, I expect, from the economies of 
Michael Graham's unostentatious way of life. 

This made our course quite plain. We remained 
at my post for some time longer ; then, Stella having 
still a very transparent complexion, we started on 
our way home, taking care to avoid a boat carrying 
coolies. I took Mrs. Churton to Pekin to call on Sir 
Richard Fart She and he became very good friends. 



Stella I OS 

She received quite an ovation from the ladies ot 
Hong-Kong. They admired the complete way in 
which Stella had put down my monstrous disposition 
to jealousy. Her accomplishments in this respect 
were a passport to their sympathies. 

You can imagine how glad Frank, Mrs. Cornish, and 
we were to meet again, for my occupation in China had 
threatened a life-long separation. I have the unlimited 
admiration from my sisters for a wise and judicious 
selection in my marriage. It is the quality they 
admire most in a man. You will get on splendidly 
with Stella ; she is fonder of a talk than of anything 
else. Is there any trace, you ask, of weakness, or 
any effect from the peculiar condition in which she 
remained for so long ? None, that I am aware of, 
except this, perhaps. My boy upstairs astonished the 
nurse by being born transparent ; however, he soon 
took in enough of this wicked world's nutriment to 
become as opaque as the rest of us. 



CHAPTER III 

CONCLUSION 

It was evening when Churton finished. I was so 
much interested in anything that concerned my old 
friend that the time had slipped imperceptibly away. 
Walking towards the house he said, — 

" I've told you this for a purpose." 

« What is it ? " 

" Talk to her ; you will find out." 

But the days passed away without any occasion 
arising. It was a pleasant house to be in, and there 
were other guests. At length late one afternoon, 
breaking into the subject, I said, as we were sitting 
together, — 

" Did you never, Mrs. Churton, feel any resentment 
for the strange condition in which Mr. Graham left 
you ? " 

She looked at me with an expression of surprise, 
whether because I asked the question at all, or be- 
cause of the idea I suggested, I could not tell. 

" Oh, no ! I was so willing ; any one who knew 
him would have been." 

" Well, it has ended happily ! " 

"Yes, Hugh puts everything to rights ; but I feel as 
if I had forgotten something, as if we all had forgot- 
ten. He cared so much— ^" 

" For his experiments ? " 

" No, for people, for all people, I cannot be quite 
happy often." 

106 



Stella 107 

" But what can you do ? " 

" That is the sadness. I don't know how to do 
what he wanted." 

"Well," I said, "that is the fate of all unintelligible 
philosophies." 

" You must not judge," she said, " by Hugh or me ; 
we could not explain it to you. I understood what 
he said at first, but I could not understand the 
'Path.* You see, it was so sad that Michael had 
only an ordinary girl to talk to. I think he left out 
something, and supposed that I knew it." 

" Have you his papers here ? " I asked. 

I would have done a good deal for the look of 
gratitude she gave me when I commenced to read 
the great pile in which Michael Graham had recorded 
his labours. 

It must have cost Churton a great effort to have 
toiled through them — as you have already gathered 
he has even more than the average English incapacity 
for ideas. But I mastered their contents, and that is 
how this present narrative comes to be written, for 
one day I said to her that people would be interested 
in Michael Graham if they knew about her. 

She, looking at me with that expression which 
loving faithfulness to the dead brings into the face of 
beautiful women, answered, — 

" Why not tell them ? " 

"Would Hugh like it?" I asked. 

" No one would connect it with us," she said ; " no 
one except the one or two who know already, and 
Hugh hasn't read anything except the newspapers 
since he began to fight the railway. I don't think 
he'd mind anything that is written in a book." 



< 



AN UNFINISHED COMMOHICATION 



CHAPTER I 

I WAS traversing a quarter of New York in which 
the streets, winding and squalid, with low buildings 
on either hand, resemble the alleys of an old world 
city. Turning a corner, I was in the most dejected 
of all that I had passed. Some vigorous, successful 
effort no doubt had its origin here, but the street 
was more like the last halting-place but one in a 
weary and dispirited struggle. 

Yet even here were signs of that feverish activity 
which makes even the most squalid streets of our 
land different from those of the old world. Little 
stores wedged themselves in the basements ; narrow, 
strip-like eating-houses thrust themselves into impos- 
sibly small spaces. Here and there a bell-pull 
wrenched off betokened the common lodging-house, 
while scattered over all the grimy windows and doors 
were the notices of decaying trades, the signs of 
struggling hand industries, the advertisements of pro- 
fessors in the last stage of indigence. Bootmakers 
flower-makers, a dancing mistress, piano lessons, 
shorthand in five weeks, all these I read. Jetson 
Street seemed a favourite camping-ground for the 
cheap lesson-giver. Wearied with these sordid de- 
tails, I passed rapidly on, buried in my thoughts. 

109 



no Aft Unfinislted Communication 

But even in the least attentive mood an unusual 
word, a mis-spelling, an incongruity of any kind has 
the power to attract the eye and cause it to send a 
signal to the brain. There was a house opposite 
which, by its carefully patched and preserved paint, 
its unbroken railings, seemed to suggest that it had 
struggled painfully to preserve appearances, and only 
succumbed finally because after all it was in Jetson 
Street On the door was the unusual notice that 
took my eye, A plain drab board had the words — 

MR. SMITH, 

UNLEARNER. 

Of all the misdirected efforts towards earning a 
livelihood this, I thought, is the most futile, and I 
paused to smile at the foolishness that put it up. 
What weary, dull-eyed failure was it who, unable to 
succeed in any pursuit, advertised himself as willing 
to impart his incapacity to others ? But as I stopped 
there somehow came into my mind the idea, that 
genuine services such as this foolish creature pre- 
tended to offer might not be unacceptable to myself. 
How pleasant it would be to let pass away some of 
that verbiage I learnt at school — learnt because 
teachers must live, I suppose. The apeing and pro- 
longed caw called grammar, the cackling of the 
human hen over the egg of language — I should like 
to unlearn grammar. The sense came over me, 
faintly at first, but gathering strength, of how much 
I should owe to any man who would rid me of what 
I learned at college — that plastering over of the face 
of nature, that series of tricks and devices whereby 
they teach a man knowing nothing of reality to talk 



Aft Uftfinisfied Communication iii 

of it as if he did. There passed before my mind that 
pallid series of ghosts, ghosts of what had once been 
some man's living, practical work, the books by 
which professors — because they must live, I suppose 
— keep younger men from life and work. 

A gleam of hope came over me that I might forget 
my philosophy lectures and the teachings of that 
bespectacled Doctor of all the sciences, who always 
turned the handle the wrong way, while he told us 
the principles by which things go. The line at 
infinity, it would be nice to forget that — and the un- 
conscious will — the principle of being and not being 
too, which, not much in itself, yet, like an active 
commercial traveller, makes business at both ends. 

It would be pleasant too to forget the Darwinian 
theory, which tells me things are as they are because 
they are not something else ; and astronomy, which 
kicks the globe into companionless cold space ; and 
physics, which tells us we are but the result of multir 
tudes of moving particles. If all these were to sink 
and disappear from me, then perhaps I should be 
face to face with something not a spectre, not an 
instance and example of a phase, a formula, a barren 
set of words. 

The letters stared me in the face unmistakably, 
for I had approached close to the house. When seen 
near, its apparent superiority to its surroundings 
vanished. But the inscription on the board was 
clear, emphatic, and, as paint was estimated in that 
street, of not such very ancient date. 

Perhaps here, in this obscure corner, is some neg- 
lected philosopher, who, like Socrates, can teach a 
willing listener that he does not know. Perhaps at 



112 An Unfinished Communication 

his words that hollow crust will crumble away, that 
is each man's idea of himself and his fellows, letting 
the man himself be known. 

Could he really teach me not to know — to be as 
though I had not known — ^would not that be to for- 
get? To pass out of those shades of vast and 
poisonous thoughts co-eval with the race ? Could he 
wipe out those foul ideas that pollute man's strength 
and woman's beauty — can he make the mind as 
though they had never been ? Can he take away 
tht)se thoughts that cast their withering shade over 
earth's fair flowers and turn the man to brute ? Can 
he put an end to divided endeavours and self-con- 
temptuous indifference ? 

If I could forget — ^lose consciousness of those in- 
eptitudes which show me too plainly what I am ; 
foiget the helpless ending of all hope, the hollow 
emptiness that fills the place in me, of friendship, love, 
and truth. 

Hastily I stepped up to the door and pulled the 
belL But instead of a vigorous peal the wire creaked 
far in its bearings. I stood looking at the door— the 
paint had long lost all trace of its original colour ; 
it was covered with marks, chipped here and there 
in flakes, worn through where it had been rubbed 
and kicked by entering feet. 

A curious gate, but it opened. In the dark 
passage I saw a woman, a little child was hanging 
to her gown ; another smaller still she carried in her 
arms; from far beyond there came the sound of 
crying. 

" Is Mr. Smith in ?" 

I looked with interest at this porteress of the porch. 



An Unfinished Communication 113 

She was fastening her dress at the neck, her hair came 
straggling over her face, and her gown was shabby ; 
but her form, strong and substantial, had a touch of 
antique grace. Comely but unanimated features 
surmounted her deep bosom. Her eyes moved slowly 
towards me like the placid eyes of a browsing ox, as 
she answered me with deliberation. 

" He's left here." 

" Where has he gone ? " 

"Jenny," she called out, "where's Mr. Smith's 
trunk gone to ? " 

" Don't know," returned Jenny's voice. 

Here was an end of my inquiry, but I asked, — 

" Had he much to do ? " 

"I don't know that any one came to see him, 
though perhaps he let them in himself." 

" Did he say anything to you ?" 

*' He wasn't the kind that talks much ; he kind of 
kept to himself." 

" Do you remember anything he said ? " 

" Well, he did say as I was a better one in his line 
than he was himself, but I guess that was one of his 
ways." 

" What sort of man was he ? " 

" Oh, nothing in particular ; you sort of felt you'd 
seen him before. He'd a black beard and kind of 
looked you through." 

Jenny's voice came from the upper landing. " His 
trunk ain't gone yet." In obedience to a howl from 
below, she moved off to little Harry or Susan or 
Jane or one of the swarm. 

As I walked away I was glad that I had avoided 
meeting some seedy individual ready to spout his 

ST. I 



114 ^^ Unfinished Communication 

nonsense. But it was not clear to me what he meant 
by his signboard And what did he mean by his 
remark to the woman ? Was it a joke at his un- 
success ? He said she taught better than he did — 
taught unlearning better. What did he mean? 
Unlearning^ forgetting 1 Why, I thought, of course 
the woman is an infinitely better professor of the art 
than he could ever be. For what is childhood save 
a vast forgetting, all the piled-up pack of cards, the 
theories, aims, strifes, emulations of a generation cast 
down in one sweep of oblivion, no vestige remaining. 
Yes, Mr. Smith is capable of a shrewd remark. Is 
it not as if mankind longed for the same thing that 
I do, and sought for it from woman ? Forgetting^ 
wiping out, the capacity of beginning again. Re- 
morse wiped out, the ignominy of being sunk lower 
than any conceivable degree of unmanliness — this 
faded completely away ! Is this then the secret of 
the tendency of man to woman — the longing for 
forgetfulness of the race? She, the soft Lethe, 
wherein all errors are forgotten ? Love, the desire 
of forgetting ? Are we but falsely what we think 
we are, this wrapped-up system of membranes, ar- 
teries, vessels but a secondary part of life, the real 
thing that passing on, that birth and re-birth, the pro- 
ceeding to happy oblivion after oblivion : and man an 
eddy in the current, a loitering, a delay, a compli- 
cated error, a worked-up sts^e with a horrible power 
of mismanagement, hiniself a mistake, his chief pas- 
sion to be forgotten ? Strange that most reasons for 
wishing to forget come through women, and woman 
is the means of forgetting— woman her own antidote. 
But I had rather see what Smith has to say. 



CHAPTER II 

On my left was the grey sea ; before, behind, and on 
my right stretched an unbroken waste of sand, level 
and smooth where it approached the ocean, but be- 
yond the last line of the sweep of the storm rising in 
little grass-covered hills. All around was mono- 
tonous and still. The clouds hung low in a great 
darkening veil, and the thick, blurred air was laden 
with fog. It was one of those days on which Nature 
makes herself all alike, letting all the jarring dif- 
ferences fall away and presenting an image of rest 
and peace. The only breaks in the great sameness 
were the furrows left by the ripples of the falling tide, 
and myself, a black speck, troubling the. immensity. 
The marks on the sand would soon be swept into 
oblivion by the rising ocean in its advance. But I — 
well ! if it were to happen, no one in the world would 
care, no wheel of business or friendship would be 
hampered — so little was there in my life that I had 
come fifty miles out of my way, had given up a day 
and accepted the prospect of a night at a miserable 
boarding-house, in order to meet an individual from 
whom I could by no possibility get any good, who 
probably was an impudent pedant I had sent to 
his landlady for Mr. Smith's address, and on the eve 
of starting for a journey to the south had received a 
scarcely legible scrawl, in which she informed me 
that the professor was at the little out-of-the-way 

115 



Ii6 An Unfinished Communication 

fishing village which I had just left. I had arrived 
in the morning ; singularly enough the little steamer 
which set me down at this remote spot bore two 
other passengers for the same place. We had 
exchanged words. One of them was an artist who 
had his sketching things with him, a man of a 
singularly refined and pleasing expression ; a brow 
beautifully moulded ; and a mobile countenance, but 
worn — a bohemian evidently, who mingled the delights 
of art with the chance pleasures of a careless crowd. 
The other was a contrast in every way ; he was 
robust and square cut, carefully dressed, speaking in 
a slow, deliberate manner, with an air of thought 
about him which was contradicted by the para- 
phernalia he put into the boat that took us off — the 
sample cases of a commercial traveller. We all three 
came to the boarding-house, which was the only 
accommodation the village afforded. I made in- 
quiries as to Mr. Smith's presence, and learnt that he 
had gone out early that morning, intending to walk 
to a still smaller village farther along the coast and 
return in the evening. Accordingly I had determined 
to go out and meet him on his return journey. I had 
no fear of not recognising him or not meeting him ; 
there was but one path, and the sandy vista of coast 
presented no figures but those of fishermen near at 
hand waiting by their boats. 

The path left the level sands and wandered up and 
down amongst the sand hills — hills produced by no- 
thing but the ceaseless winds, but made permanent 
by the coarse and straggling grass. At a turn in the 
winding path I suddenly came face to face with the 
man I sought. He was tall, dark, and walked rapidly ; 



An Unfinished Communication 117 

his eyes were keen and piercing, but he did not look 
at me till, standing directly in his path, I said, " Mr. 
Smith, I believe." With a gesture of his arm he 
arrested my hand, which I had involuntarily raised ; 
he looked me in the face and said, " Excuse me, we 
have not met before." This was not the indigent 
professor of a purposeless art whom I had expected 
to meet ; the glance was full of concentration and 
energy — the glance of a man accustomed to seize an 
occasion, not of a waif and dreamer, but of one who 
directed the destinies of others. Still it must be the 
man I sought, so I continued, ^ I called on you in 
New York, attracted by the singularity of your notice." 

'' In what do you consider it singular ? " he asked. 

" Unleamer," I said ; " that is not usual." 

" Some mischievous boy, no doubt, has put an * un ' 
before a word of a very usual significance." 

''The significance may be common enough, but 
' learner ' is never seen on a door plate ; the more 
usual designation is 'teacher' — learner in such a 
position has no significance." 

" In that case you do not better it much by putting 
' un ' before it." 

" It is perfectly intelligible," I replied ; " in com- 
position the word learner retains its primitive signi- 
ficance of an importer of learning, and unlearner is 
one who relieves others of the burdens of know- 
ledge." 

" Admitting that," he replied, " a man may profess 
elocution or Greek in New York and yet not be 
willing to impart instruction wherever he goes." 

" Certainly," I answered ; " but as I am not likely to 
see you again, perhaps you will satisfy a natural 



Ii8 An Unfinished Communication 

curiosity on my part as to the nature of the profession 
of which you are the most eminent representative." 

" You do me too much honour," he replied ; " I am 
at the very bottom of the calling." 

" To do justice to both our views, in brief, you are 
the only representative of the profession." 

" You are right," he answered, " unless you would 
include in it those who contribute their services by 
teaching something in an inefficient manner." 

" Omitting those who hardly count, I can under- 
stand that the demands on your services are so 
incessant that you hardly care to interrupt your 
brief period of rest," I said. 

" Indeed, I do not find myself much in request — I- 
would gladly welcome a competitor or two, if there 
were more demand for the kind of service I render ; 
it is I that have to seek, not I that am sought But 
what is it you wish to know ? " 

There was, if not in his words, at any rate in his 
expression of countenance, an air of aloofness and 
superiority which I judged inappropriate coming from 
a struggling teacher, so I said, — 

" There is a certain absence of display and ostenta- 
tion about your profession which is commendable. 
A dancing master, a teacher of the flute, in offering to 
instruct tacitly lays claim to the possession of skill in 
dancing or flute playing, whereas you, in offering to 
aid in unlearning, lay claim to proficiency and ability 
in nothing." 

" I am quite willing to admit," he answered, " that 
you possess intelligence^ if that is the object of your 
remarks, but at present I am not exercising my 
profession." 



An Unfinished Communication 119 

" Perhaps your indisposition to exercise your pro- 
fession has something to do with my possession of 
intelligence," I interrupted. 

His manner changed — for the first time he looked 
me full in the face ; I felt as if I was called on for a 
combat. Not that there was anything unfriendly in 
his look, he might be on my side or against me, but 
it was a face that took away from me in a moment 
any inclination for trifling insincerity or pretence— it 
was like the face of battle. 

" Are you sure," he said, " that you want to un- 
learn ? Look at the sea. From here we can see a 
multitude of small waves; if we were on a high 
eminence we should see the larger ocean billows on 
whose surface merely these small disturbances are. 
From a still greater height we should see the great 
wave of the tide, whose great sweep might mean life 
or death to a swimmer, buffetting the tumultuous 
little waves. Is it not the greater tides that you 
should strive to learn, forgetting the momentary 
disturbances ? " 

" No," I said ; ** that is more learning, not less — ^and 
there need be no forgetting in that learning, for from 
a close and intimate knowledge of the little waves 
the larger movements could be discovered, depend- 
ing as they do on the larger movements." 

" And yet," he replied, " it is the path to that which 
you seek, for in unlearning, as well as in everything 
else, there is a certain heedlessness and recklessness 
which defeats its own end, a desire of grasping the 
all .which lays hold on nothing." 

"There is no need for you to tell me that," I 
answered, as my past thrilled through me. 



/ 

/ 
/ 



120 An Unfinished Cotnmunication 

" Then wherefore forget ? What you have been is 
the food on which your soul lives. Think how 
closely connected memory and self-consciousness are ; 
snap the last chord of recollection and you would 
lose the sense of personal identity." 

" I do not want these stale moralities/' I said ; ^ we 
are fettered and bound by the past^ and oblivion — 
utter oblivion — is a cheap price to pay for free- 
dom." 

'' So you know that you are fettered and bound, but 
you have got to learn that you act in doing nothing ; 
you do not see where freedom lies. But have you 
ever lived ? for life is where man takes up the work of 
nature and forms a net-work of close personal know- 
ledge, linking each to each, preparing that body in 
which the soul of man lives. Three people came to 
me once, whose destinies were influenced by each 
other. One of them, a farmer in New England, had 
committed a murder. Up to forty years of age he 
had lived among the people of his little village, as 
one of them, as in these rural communities they carry 
on their lives. But he fell into difficulties, and, going 
one day to the house of his largest creditor, he found 
him inexorable. A quarrel arose : there was no one 
about He killed the man, and taking a sum of 
money, sufficient to relieve him from his difficulties, 
he went away unperceived. The murder was at- 
tributed to roving vagrants. But the farmer found a 
sense of isolation and aloofness creeping over him. 
At last, when he could bear it no longer, he went to 
a neighbour and told him of his crime. ' Least said 
the soonest mended,' said he^ and counselled the man 
.to keep silence. ' But,' said the murderer, * I want 



An Unfinished Communication 121 

you to help me ; you, to whom it does not matter, 
can be quite open and perfectly known by every one, 
then I being linked on to you and you to them, I 
shall be joined again.' But his neighbour hesitated 
— there were several things quite inconsistent with 
his position as a deacon which prevented him from 
acceding to this request Being moved by the man's 
eagerness he explained everything fully to him and 
finally convinced him that what he asked was im- 
possible. The murderer let some time go by till, 
finding himself sinking still deeper in his isolation, he 
told a young and lovely girl of what he had done. 
She was very sorry, and told him that he must live a 
very good life ever afterwards. * But I want you to 
help me,* he said ; * it will not cost you anything. I 
want you to be perfectly open, so that every one 
knows everything about you; then yoUj knowing 
everything about me, I shall be linked on.' 

" * But,* she exclaimed, ' I could not tell John all 
about James,' and pitying the man she told him all 
about herself* He^ seeing that he was unreasonable, 
went away, and after a time gave himself up, and 
was executed. Then his neighbour felt a new earnest- 
ness and cheerfulness come over him, and the girl- 
she was married then — threw her arms round her 
husband and in a flood of tears felt a weight and 
oppression removed- — he had done for them what he 
had wanted them to do for him." 

I heard a quick step, and close to us I saw the 
artist. He addressed my companion without a 
moment's hesitation. '' My name is Eustace Thomp- 
son," he said ; '' I must have missed you. I went on to 
the village beyond, and, finding you were not there, I 



M I 



122 An Unfinished Communication 

came back ; I want you to tell me about this unlearn- 
ing." 

He had hardly finished speaking when, from the 
direction in which I had come, we were joined by the 
other of my two fellow passengers. He had over- 
heard the last words, and said, " My name is Clement ; 
I have come on the same errand." 

" Gentlemen," I said, " I have already had some 
conversation with our friend here, and it seems, as far 
as I can make out, to be a condition of receiving his 
assistance that we depart from our usual habitudes 
in life and form a kind of spiritual network : that we 
lay aside our reserve : so that, another knowing the 
details of our existence, and we knowing his in turn, we 
form a body connected together in the way in which 
persons are connected together. This body is to be 
a vehicle for the spirit of man to work through, as 
our own bodies, organized in their turn in a mechani- 
cal way, are vehicles for our spirits to work through." 

The artist seemed to be immediately affected by 
the unleamer's presence ; for, with an appearance of 
half-concealed agitation, he said, ''I am willing to 
accept any conditions you impose. From my earliest 
boyhood I had a love for the beautiful, and an over- 
mastering impulse towards painting. As soon as I 
could shake myself free from the influence of my 
relations, who are all in business in Ohio, I came to 
New York, but it was too late to counteract the 
results of my early training in the local art schools. 
I found myself condemned to hopeless mediocrity. 
In the shifting hand-to-mouth life I lead, I never see 
any, except models, the keepers of boarding-houses, 
and their chance inmates. But along with my love of 



An Unfinished Communication 12 j 

art and connected with it I have ever had the strongest 
yearnings for the high, pure beauty of perfect woman- 
hood. Those visions of it which painters have left 
on canvas and sculptors have fixed in stone shone 
over me in youth with a holy light. But in the 
murky air bright stars grew dim, no touch of the 
reality came near me. Often I would walk in the 
park, and when I saw some face pass by whereon sat 
the grace of true royalty of womanhood, supreme 
object of my adoration, I would pass the rest of the 
day in wondering recollection. Those were happy 
days till I awakened to the thought, ^ Why always 
in images, or seen from afar — why never one heart- 
beat nearer me ? " and I plunged into the bitter dream 
of an impossible bliss. I am too poor to marry, and 
have seen no woman whom I can tolerate beside the 
ideal that holds me. 

"A year ago I was commissioned to make a set of 
drawings. General Walker wished to put some glass 
windows in a church, and in order to pay a com- 
pliment to his sister, thinking it would please her, he 
asked her to sit for the heads of the saints. She has a 
sweet, though faded countenance, and the design was 
to pourtray her face in different positions in the 
three windows. He chose me to prepare the draw- 
ings, and the lady, his sister, came to my studio. 

** She is one of those individuals, somewhat colour- 
less themselves, who live niuch in their sympathies, 
and, in the long-continued sittings which were 
necessary, I found myself talking to her on all sub- 
jects — talking at last of the ideal woman. She 
laughed at me, told me to look carefully and said I 
should see her some day. On one occasion, giving 



124 ^^ Unfinished Communication 

the reins to my fancy, I said, ' I have seen her — ^this 
ideal '; and I described a face, the look, the gesture, the 
figure, the manner of one in whom all I had ever seen 
of grace and beauty were combined. 

^ She listened to me with interest, a deeper kind of 
interest than the occasion seemed to warrant, but 
said nothing, inquiring merely where I had seen my 
ideal. I told her she had passed me, driving too 
rapidly by me in the park. 

"Every day afterwards she asked me if I had 
seen the lady of my dreams. Sometimes I told 
her I had, sometimes I told her I had not. She 
always asked me for a closer and closer description ; 
occasionally she seemed disappointed with what I 
said, but never disappointed with what I cared 
about; it was always some trifle of dress or mere 
detail that displeased her, and on such occasions she 
would bid me look more carefully next time. I 
played at this game thinking that she, too, had her 
ideal of what a woman should be, and willing to 
gratify her in the innocent pastime, gratifying myself 
too, for she had that sympathetic charm which makes 
it not impossible for a man to speak of that of which 
he dreams, which he can never hope for. 

" At last one day she astonished me by saying, * I 
know her — I know this lady you have watched for so 
often — she has seen you too.* It became interesting. 
In a spirit of devilry I completely deceived the kind 
creature ; it was easy enough to see what she wanted 
me to say ; for every time I divined her thought and 
added some fresh trait of description, she breathed a 
deep sigh of satisfaction ; whenever I began to go 
away a look of pained apprehension came into her 



An Unfinished Communication 125 

eyes. The secret came out at last. It was her niece, 
who had been cruelly deceived — ^had married so un- 
happily — ^but it was all over now save the effect on 
her. She had relinquished the world, had found her- 
self unable to take up life again, but lost all belief in 
man. 

*' * Her thoughts are just like yours/ she said ; * she 
loves Nature and all pure, beautiful things. She is 
living now completely retired ; nothing we can do will 
make her go into society, she has given up the world.' 

"I talked to my foolish sitter. I have had my 
dreams of the beautiful and fair. I talked to her, 
making messages of thought to the fair unknown, 
and through her I received fragments of charming 
remarks her niece had made — ^little touches that had 
an individuality of their own before they were lost 
in her limp kindliness — it was as a faintly-breathed 
perfume of fair flowers distantly odorous. Poor 
Matilda had never felt the stir of love come closer to 
her than in wafts from others' passion, but she had 
her delight in the reflected glory of it. As an amuse- 
ment, and because the things she told me were in- 
teresting, I pretended to be in love with the unknown 
one, always praying and begging for a meeting. 

" At last Matilda, with tears in her eyes, abandon- 
ing her old maidenly reserve, took my hand in hers. 
* My friend,' she said, * it is everything to her. You 
are not like other men I know. She has been so 
cruelly deceived once ; if you are not all I know you 
are, she will never believe again that there is any- 
thing in the world for her.' 

" * Where shall I meet her ? ' I asked. * I do not 
know,' she replied.* *We will meet at the picture- 



126 An Unfinished Communication 

gallery/ I said ; ' at those eternal symphonies of 
colour and imagination. Walking before them, I 
shall be able to speak to her.' 'Oh yes/ she said, 
' she has promised to meet you ; it does not matter 
where/ 

**'I will go to-morrow morning at eleven. Tell 
her I will come up the steps at eleven.' She rose to 
go. ' How shall I know her ? ' I added. She looked 
at me in surprise. ' How will you know her ? ' 'I did 
not mean that,' I said hastily. * Of course I mean, 
how shall I know that she will let me speak to her ? 
I could not venture unless she gave me some sign.' 
' Oh/ she said, ' I will ask her to drop her handker- 
chief, then you will know that you may speak to her.' 

•* The next morning at eleven I went up the steps 
of the museum. There were several people coming 
in and out I looked at them, wondering which of 
them it could be ; who was the unknown ? I pro- 
ceeded leisurely up the steps, composing my features 
to the grin which was, I felt, the appropriate expres- 
sion for the high-complexioned girl who had made 
this appointment for a joke with a poor devil of an 
artist — ^for the girl who had been fooling Matilda as 
much on her side as I on mine. But I did not see 
any one who corresponded to my expectations. I 
was almost inclined to turn back and give up the 
folly myself, for I saw coming down the steps the 
wondrously beautiful pale-faced woman, with eyes 
like stars and the grace of all nature in her, that I 
had ever dreamed about — the ideal of all my life, 
only fairer far. I quite forgot all about that other 
one as she passed quickly down, passing quite close 
to me. She had a thin veil on, and as she passed 



An Unfinished Communication 127 

me I involuntarily looked steadily on her. 'One look 
on a creature like that is all that life holds for poor 
wretches like myself/ I thought, and then I raised 
my gaze, looking up the steps for my high-com- 
plexioned beauty. But there was no one there. 
Suddenly I remembered that she, the very dream of 
all my life, she had dropped something when she 
was at the head of the flight of steps — there had 
been a gleam of white—- it was that that had attracted 
my attention, and I had turned my face in her direc- 
tion. Why, it is she I she is the one who came 
here to meet me I The conviction flashed over me. 
I turned hastily down the steps. But it was too late. 
She was nearly at the gate ; she entered a carriage 
standing there and drove away. 

" At the sitting on the next day Matilda was very 
late. She came at last After I had been painting 
some time I said, ' I am sorry I did not understand.' 
Matilda rose ; she was trembling. ' I didn't come 
here to-day for the painting,' she said ; ' I came here 
to say good-bye. It is too sad to be angry with you ; 
you don't know what you have done.' She went I 
sent the paintings of the glass windows ; in due time 
they were finished and put in the church. But I 
could never gain the opportunity of a word with 
Matilda again. That glorious face, the promise of 
such happiness as I never dreamed that life could 
have afforded me, is ever with me. I have lost 
everything — there is nothing for me now, not even 
the miserable pleasures I had before. Can I forget 
her or myself or both ? " he added, questioning the 
impenetrable face of the unleamer. 

"I haven't anything of the artist in me," said 



128 An Unfinished Communication 

Clement ; " but I had a desire which showed itself in 
my earliest youth as strongly as his for beauty. I 
desired certainty — to know; it quickly became evi- 
dent to me that the only path to certainty lay in the 
study of real, material things. All certain and clear 
thought is connected with them^ and anything else 
men have supposed in place of them — principles, 
essences, spirits — are less than they, poor and un- 
certain substitutes. Most of all the hypothesis of a 
creation and a Creator appeared to me unwarranted 
and uncalled for. At the same time my circum- 
stances were such that the only avenue open to me 
by which I could enter upon a life of study was one 
which the religious benevolence of the past had scat- 
tered abundantly. I was able to enter a theological 
seminary, and in due course of time I became a 
preacher. But in calculating my life I had not 
reckoned on the overmastering attraction which low 
society has for any one who, as I was, is entirely out 
of any close and hearty intimacy with his surround- 
ings. The religious body with which I was con- 
nected removed me, not unnaturally, from their midst. 
I came to this country as a secularist lecturer, but I 
have gradually become converted to the religion of 
this country — the practical religion — a belief that the 
will of the people is divine, with the added revelation 
of the dollar : I mean, that what people want it is 
your supreme duty to provide, and what they want 
is shown by what they will pay for. That, and its 
corollary, a home — a seat at one's own fireside, with 
a pleasant, loving wife beside one — ^is what I believe 
in. And the process of my conversion was hastened 
by a letter I received from a girl who had refused me 






An Unfinished Communication 129 

before. She had been going out as a missionary, but 
she writes now in her bright way that she thinks I 
need converting more than the heathen. She stands 
in, you see, for the same reason that a woman of the 
modern school would give for standing off. Now 
with her notions and character it is necessary I should 
put aside my old rationalistic convictions, and I come 
to you to unlearn them because they are true." 

Having finished he looked at me inquiringly, as if 
to say, " It is your turn now." Eustace Thompson 
had not listened to him, and now took advantage of 
the silence to speak hurriedly in a low tone to the 
unlearner. This left me involved in a conversation 
with Mr. Clement, for which I had little liking. 

"I don't believe in any of this," I said. "There is 
much that you can tell only to one other, if to any 
other at all. That you have told what you did just 
now would cause, if she knew it, acute pain to the 
warm-hearted, impulsive girl who has promised to 
marry you. You will get to learn this in the happi- 
ness which I hope you will enjoy with her. Among 
the words which to you were mere empty forms you 
must have often repeated the truth, that there is One 
to whom the heart can speak when all mortal ears 
are deaf." 

" That sounds beautiful enough," he said, " but it is 
the beauty of death ; the glories of life lie in the other 
direction. In what you expressed when I came up 
lies a truth which I have often dimly felt. Nature 
presents to us a mechanical aspect in things, but in 
persons there is a personal relation. No doubt be- 
hind these persons there is as much hidden to us as 
there is hidden behind the outward aspect of the 

ST. K 



130 An Unfinished Communication 

world to a savage ; but we must discover it in the 
same way as we have discovered our material know- 
ledge, by direct observation. A metaphysical theory 
kept men from the path of science for ages, and a 
metaphysical theory of a personality apart from per- 
sons keeps us from finding out what is behind the 
appearance here, too." 

"You take the contrary view to mine," I said. 
" We have our own ideals, aims, convictions of right 
and wrong; the fact of communication is quite 
secondary." 

"No," he replied. "Contact with other human 
beings is primary, all comes from that; right and 
wrong is merely the fashion of the court of humanity, 
changing from age to age. When we bind ourselves 
in our actions by the sense of right, we are like 
people who build a cistern up in the air instead of 
hewing it in a rock. The way is to live in openness, 
to look on concealment as self-murder — as it is ; 
then, by the conditions of our life, our actions are 
restrained." 

" It does not matter, then, what pigs we become so 
long as we are all in one sty ! " 

Eustace Thompson at this moment raised his voice, 
saying, as he turned to go, " Then you will do nothing 
for me ? " 

"You do not really want anything I could do,*' 
was the reply. " The experience which you have 
had could only have come to you because you were 
born an artist in the true sense of the word ; it is that 
which will lift you above the platitude of your Ohio 
School. One look, one movement, one faint glimpse 
of her are all that can be yours. Then live in them, 



An Unfinished Communication 131 

and you know what art is, — ^that intense effort, with 
its little all of visual rays, to keep the reminder, that 
is on the face of sky and mountain, sea and man, of a 
bliss that has turned from man." 

His next words were addressed to Clement : 

" You belong to a modern school which finds reality 
in the fulness of the relations in which a thing is ; 
you do not conceive it as existing apart from its 
relations. Now, as the events and circumstances in 
which you know an individual disappear in time, you 
cannot believe that he continues to exist. But why 
should you say that the events and circumstances 
which are past in time exist no longer, making your 
consciousness a measure of existence ? Thought is a 
path which it is difficult to retrace. You must go on. 
You believe in the permanence of matter, the con- 
servation of energy. Take the next step and recog- 
nise the conservation of events. Every event which 
you experience is a permanent thing, altering but 
always existing. Think of yourself, this is the con- 
ception of the soul for you, as always existing in 
every act and circumstance of your life, so that you — 
your complete self in your whole life — are continually 
changing and altering, the present being that part on 
which you are now engaged. In this way you can 
come into substantial agreement with the one who is 
to be your life's companion." 

"But," said Clement, "there isn't room for any 
more than I can see in space." 

" Here you introduce a conception which has been 
made for utility into a discussion in which we have 
need of certainty. You cannot observe anything 
which is not analagous to an activity of your own. 



132 An Unfinished Communication 

For purposes of use you have gained an intuition, by 
means of which you observe the world in space. If 
you want to know more of existence, you must not 
take the conceptions of the arts and manufactures 
without criticism, but you must form a higher 
intuition by means of which you can observe 
more." 

" I see what you mean," said Clement ; " though I 
have always before dismissed such notions as chi- 
merical." Then turning to me, with that conviction 
of his words being valuable which so seldom leaves a 
man who has gained his living by talking, he said : — 

" It is perfectly possible that what we experience 
as fleeting, passing events in time should be perma- 
nent, altering things. Imagine this piece of wood " — 
he took up a piece of drift wood a few inches long — 
"passing through a sheet of paper, but paper of a 
curious kind, which closed up round all the irregulari- 
ties of the wood. A creature living on the paper, and 
having no experience beyond it, would think of the 
successive sections of the piece of wood as a piece of 
matter in his limited world, while the face of the 
piece of wood would appear to him as a series of 
changes affecting the contour of the section. He 
only knows the surface as a series of changes. Now 
if the piece of wood is altering itself, that surface 
which, perceiving it under his conditions, he calls a 
fleeting series of events may be changing and altering, 
and similarly ^" 

Nothing was to be gained by continuing a discus- 
sion of this kind. Mr. Smith had refused to do any- 
thing for the artist, and he was now trying to devise 
a modus vivendi for Clement and his missionary — a 



An Unfinished Communication 133 

matter which did not interest me at all. So I turned 
to him and said : — 

" I shall be stopping on this coast for a few days ; 
perhaps I shall have the opportunity of meeting you 
again." 

He answered me by an inclination of his head. 

" Do you know," I continued, " if I can find accom- 
modation in the village farther on ? " 

"Yes," he answered; "there is one house where 
you can make yourself comfortable, if you do not 
object to simple fare. You will find it a very in- 
teresting place." 

" I will go on there. May I ask you," I added, 
turning to Clement, " to have the kindness to tell the 
people on your return to send my things after me ? " 

" rU see to that," said he. 

"Before many days are over I will meet you 
again," said the unleamer, and we turned in opposite 
directions. 



CHAPTER III 

Dark clouds hung around, hastening on the obscurity 
of night ; the little footpath went wandering in and 
out between the sand hills, and wearied of it, I left 
it, striking far out to where the line of the sea was 
visible. Walking on and approaching nearer to this 
sure guide, I wondered what would happen if, pressing 
on and on, I entered the looming waters, and, passing 
beyond the possibility of return, were swallowed up. 
Were I to be dropped out of the world really and for 
ever, who would care? Some people, perchance, 
would faintly wonder what had become of me. But 
none of the wheels of business or of life would be 
stopped — the irrevocable end of all would come, 
closing upon a life of wasted opportunities, of heed- 
lessness, fraught with bitter pain to others, of real 
disappointment irrevocably suffered, for death has 
placed its seal on them. How is it and wherefore that 
I have been landed in such an unreal world, one in 
which I could welcome any greed, any passion, as a 
god giving me life, and wiping away the dull empti- 
ness that fills all things ? 

There must be reality somewhere. But all I have 
ever sought has been fictitious — sham knowledge was 
all I learnt and empty aims were all I conceived. 
And when I began to live in the world I could not 
distinguish feigned love : I did not understand the 

184 



An Unfinished Communication 135 

signs of deceit and mockery. Rather, was I not 
a deceit and mockery myself? Forget — if I could 
but forget I No atonement, no re-doing possible! 
What I envy most is these sands, whose miserable 
furrows are washed away by to-morrow's tide. Obliv- 
ion, whose image is the great, dark wall of cloud and 
shifting, barren sand — ^that is what I long for, the only 
possible beginning. 

A singularly clear and musical cry came to me. I 
looked,but saw nothing. The immense waste stretched 
to right and left, on and behind. Far on my left was 
the white line of the living waters, far, almost 
undistinguished, on my right were the low sand hills 
of the shore. From somewhere between me and 
them came the cry. It was repeated, and at length I 
discerned a figure far in shore — though whether it 
were a woman or a boy, I could not tell. 

Turning, I began to walk towards the creature 
who, starting out of this barren immensity, hailed 
me, and wished to speak to me. But it did not await 
me ; it came towards me, making signs and movements, 
from which I gathered that I was to retrace my steps. 
I went back, always tending in shore, and it moved 
parallel with me. At length it beckoned to me, and 
approaching directly I saw that it was a girl. ** The 
sands are very dangerous out there," she said, "this 
is your best way " ; and keeping some distance in front 
of me, she led me to the path which ran among the 
sand hills. Almost before I could thank her, she had 
turned off along another trodden way, and was lost to 
sight. 

Walking on and on, at length I reached a little vill- 
age. A boat had come in far down on the sands ; three 



136 An Unfinished Communication 

or four men were hauling it up. All the houses, save 
one, were miserable huts. The exception was a large, 
bam-like cottage, dilapidated, but offering a promise 
of sufficient room. 

" Who lives in that house ? " I asked a man whom 
I saw inside the half-opened door of a hut He 
came out and addressed me leisurely, showing his 
white teeth, and looking in the gathering dust like a 
darker blot against the grey sand. " That is old 
Jack's house — he's at home now." 

There was nothing in the scenery to interest me, 
nor in the people, part negro, part white, living together 
in these little hovels where the land was of no possible 
value. Why did they not take more room for their 
dwelling places ? Each hut was crowded close to the 
others, and each was so small that it suggested the 
utmost poverty. 

I knocked at the door, and found old Jack Hudson 
willing to take me in. I told him that I might stop 
a few days, and gave him some money to get me 
a meal. The room I went into was exquisitely neat. 
A few wild flowers stood in a little vase near the 
window ; there were curtains made out of disused 
nets. Old Jack took a basket and stood by the 
door ; presently I heard him talking to some one 
outside, and then he told me to wait a little — all 
would be ready soon. 

In a little while there came in, carrying the basket 
with her purchases in it, the same girl who had warned 
me of the danger into which I had so unsuspectingly 
walked. She greeted me with a smile, and told the 
old man of my adventure. He warned me against 
the sands, offering to go with me if I wanted to walk 



An Unfinished Communication 137 

over them. The tide came in rapidly, and in many 
parts there were quicksands ; if there were anything of 
a sea on, even a good swimmer would be in danger. 

The next day I spent in exploring the neighbour- 
hood, trying to find in what way it would fulfil the 
promise of interest which Smith had given me. But 
I found absolutely nothing. The region was almost 
uninhabited. Farther inland there were great swamps, 
which cut off the coast from the cultivated land. The 
people of the shore won a hard livelihood by fishing 
and growing rude patches of corn and potatoes. 

Returning in the evening I found that Jack was 
out, but the girl, "Nattie," was sitting at the rude 
table with three or four little fellows, laughing and 
talking to them, and teaching them to write and 
read. 

" Pray excuse my interruption," I said ; " I did not 
know you were the schoolmistress." 

*' Oh no," she said, " I could not be that ; I am only 
helping them a little." . 

" Helping them for school ? " I asked. 

** No," she answered ; " there was an old man here 
once who kept a school, but he has gone away, and 
they want to know what he taught me." 

" May I look ? " I said, taking up one of the well- 
thumbed copybooks. 

" Please do," she replied ; " that's Johnny's book ; he 
is a gfreat writer. Johnnie, won't you read your story 
to the gentleman ? " 

Up stood a chubby little fellow, with a wide, red 
mouth, and began to read with the utmost solemnity : — 

^ Once upon a time there was a carpenter named 
Chota. He lived in a house close by the mountains^ 



138 An Unfinished Communication 

and near to some forests which had no end. His 
business was to get logs of wood, so one day he 
started out and went into the forest. He went along 
paths that were quite dark, for the trees were high 
above them. ' They were only little lines running in 
the great dark woods. As he was going along he saw 
a huge wolf. The wolf opened its mouth and looked 
fierce, just as if it had been waiting for him. He was 
awfully frightened. But at last he got his courage up 
and resolved to show no fear, but to go straight 
forward. He came to the place where the wolf was 
crouching down. He expected the wolf would spring 
upon him and eat him up. But the wolf did not 
move. The wolf turned its mouth to him, and kept 
it open. He looked at the wolfs mouth, as it opened 
widely in front of him. He saw a large bone — a 
horse's bone — sticking in the wolfs upper jaw. Then 
he knew why the wolf kept his mouth wide open. 
He went up to the wolf and put his hand into his 
mouth and pulled out the bone. Up got the wolf and 
wagged his tail. Then it bounded away into the 
woods. Another day in another part of the forest 
he heard a great howling. He did not know which way 
to run. At length, as nothing came after him, he 
walked straight forward, and there he saw a wolf caught 
by the leg in a split tree. The tree had been kept 
open by a wedge, but the wolf had pushed out the 
wedge with his leg and the tree had caught him. 
When the wolf saw him he howled louder than before. 
Then Chota went up and drove the wedge in again 
and the wolf drew his leg out and ran away. Another 
day a wolf came after him ; he thought his last hour 
had come, so he turned round to die bravely, like a 



An Unfinished Communication 139 

man. But the wolf held up his paw. There was a 
large thorn sticking out of the wolfs paw. When 
the man saw it he stooped down and pulled out the 
thorn. Then the wolf wagged his tail and limped 
away. Not long after, walking through the woods, he 
heard a horrible kind of coughing. He was much 
afraid, but reflecting that a man must not give way to 
fear, he went on. Right in front of him he saw a wolf 
stsCnding on half of a large fish. He had eaten the 
other half, and a bone was sticking in his throat. He 
opened his mouth and turned to the man. But the 
man felt very cross, and said, * I cannot be always 
pulling bones out of wolves* throats and thorns out of 
their paws, and their legs out of trees.* So he paid 
no attention to the wolf, but walked on. Soon after- 
wards, thinking it not safe to walk so much in the 
woods, he went to the town, and became a house 
carpenter/* 

"Johnnie's quite a writer," I said, "but I don't 
quite see his moral." 

" Oh ! I think it's a very good moral,** said Nattie ; 
"if you don't do a kindness, you had better be 
careful." 

" And become a house carpenter ? " I asked. 

" Yes, that is better than being eaten up.** 

" I hope you told Johnnie he ought to help a wolf 
up to seventy times seven.** 

" Yes, but he is impatient." 

" So you let him write according to his own nature 
and then make for safety.*' 

Just then the door opened. Jack Hudson came in 
and the children ran out He sat down at the table 
and busied himself over the food which Nattie 



140 An Unfinished Communication 

f>rought out and set before him. Looking at his 
coarse, expressionless features and rust-coloured beard, 
I could not believe he had any relationship to the dark- 
eyed, level-browed, graceful girl whom he called his 
daughter. When he had finished his meal, he pulled 
out his pipe and sat smoking in silence. I asked him 
a question or two ; but he replied by a gruff mono- 
syllable. I did not see why he should drive me out 
of the room, as he had done the children, so I kept 
my seat, and tried to draw the daughter into conver- 
sation. She was moving about attending to household 

matters. 
" Do you like stories with good endings ?" I asked. 

" I like any kind of stories," she replied, " but I 
have only read two or three." 

" You did me a great service yesterday. I cannot 
swim very well ; if the tide had caught me, I should 
have been in serious danger ; may I do something in 
return — may I get you some books?" She was 
silent for a moment or two, then said : 

" I should like Heenan's Art of Self Defence,^* 

" Oh, certainly," I replied, rather astonished at her 
choice. "But I don't mean only one; tell me of 
some others." 

** If you give me another one, I should like one 
about boats — how to sail different kinds of boats, and 
how to find the way at sea." 

The wind was blowing outside, the regular roll of 
the surf made itself plainly heard. I went to the 
window and looked out : the lights in the little vil- 
lage were all extinguished. When I turned round 
she was gone. The old man was asleep in his chair. 
I went to my room, and at length fell asleep, wonder- 



An Unfinished Communication 141 

ing by what stretch of ingenuity this village could be 
called interesting. 

The next day, hiring a boat, I sailed along the 
coast till evening. It was a dreary, abandoned stretch 
— low hills, the monotonous swell of the ocean, 
sparsely wooded patches, breaking the aridness ; that 
was absolutely all the eyes could see. The only 
relief in the weary scene was the gleam and splash of 
a seagull's wing — one was always hovering near. 

One or two days passed in this manner; then a 
morning broke of storm and rain, which forced me to 
keep indoors. All day long old Jack sat in a comer 
of the room, till, weary of doing nothing, I began to 
talk to him, speaking to him as if he had intelligence 
and knowledge, disregarding his silence. It was a 
fruitless effort. But I became aware that I had a 
listener ; the singular feeling came over me of the 
presence of an intelligent and a responsive mind. 
The door into the next room was open, and walking 
across the floor, I saw that Nattie was sitting there, 
her hands folded in her lap, her work dropped, her 
head bent forward as if in profound attention. 

Going back to my seat I talked of anything and 
everything, of what men had done in the world in the 
past, ever with the sense of a responsive and eager 
listener in the room beyond, though old Jack was 
nodding opposite to me. I told of the sunny shores of 
Greece, where every rocky islet that parts the waves is 
rich in memories of human life, crowded with figures 
of the human drama, back and back till where, lost 
in the dimness of ages, the shapes vanish into heroes, 
gods, and monsters. I spoke of the places I had visit- 
ed, the scenes of coast and grove and mountain, and 



142 An Unfinished Cotmnunication 

all the while, the old man having long fallen asleep, 
her listening became more intense. She rose and came 
into the room, sitting down by the old man's side. 
In her wrapt silence I called to mind the old days 
when I had dreamed many a dream. Pity if for 
her I cannot make the faded colours glow. People 
have found them fair — these ancient legends ; they 
are fair, but not for me. Still, I can spread them 
here in this far corner of the globe, and, unmoved 
myself, let the listening fisher-girl see pass in due 
procession the legendary pageant of the ages. 

So beginning, I passed along the line of the great 
chroniclers of the spirit, where Homer throws the 
gauntlet down warm from his glowing hand, begin- 
ning there, and touching on those souls that have 
seen the challenge and shouted across the waste of 
years, " The wine of my blood is strong as thine, dis- 
turber of the quiet pool of time," sending defiance 
ringing back. I told her Plato's dream, of Socrates, 
of Alcibiades' fiery youth ; I passed to Rome and 
Roman men and matrons. Then, gliding down the 
stream of years, I told her Cervantes' long, strange 
tale of Quixote, Knight of Mancha. Then she looked 
at me with pained eyes, all aglow for life's great em- 
pire ; and to comfort her I told her what Cervantes 
should have set down closely and in order on his fair- 
written page. I told her of Don Quixote's one happy 
day — I do not mean a day wherein he was happy 
because of some yet unacted-out delusion, but a day 
in which time and tide and the soul of noble woman 
truly served, all swept on with him, he threading 
aright for once the devious maze. 

For on a day as Don Quixote, Knight of La 



An Unfinished Communication 143 

Mancha, came to his journey's end, and his tired 
horse went slow with drooping head, right in front of 
him, parting from the low hostel where he wished to 
pass the night, he saw certain varlets coming forth, 
starting on their way when all good men stop and are 
rested from the day's long toil. 

Then, bethinking him they meant some ill, he tarried 
not, but passed straight on, and Rosinante bore him 
while his loose armour clanked in the silent night. 
Soon he passed the sullen crew, who parted before 
him, and loitering let him ride on. He went to warn 
whosoever came of the foul knaves behind, or else, 
seeing some lonely lady advancing into danger, turn 
and hold the caitiff crew while she rode into safety. 

But the path went on and on, and no traveller came 
nor any house. The narrow path led far away from 
the road whereon he had been travelling ; over hill and 
dale, away and away, and deep into the night he rode 
coming to no turning, meeting no men. 

At length Rosinante could go no farther, so he left 
her in a thicket and walked on with visor raised, 
gazing at the darkness of the path. Presently the 
woods opened, and the moon, hardly showing itself 
at>ove the trees, casting an uncertain, pale light, he 
saw the shadow of a castle tower, and all around the 
blackness of the walls. He went on, but as he stood 
upon the moat's deep edge no voice hailed him. 
As he moved round, no watchful eye noted him. 
And see, where the great drawbridge hung suspended 
high there was no watchful light burning. But what 
was that? A slender bridge woven with ropes, 
along which a page might run or a single foeman pass, 
while the great bridge stirred not, was thrown across, 



144 ^^ Unfinished Communicatum 

leaving no hindrance whereby one might not steal 
into the castle. 

Once, twice the lord of La Mancha called, but no 
one answered. Then he crossed and found himself 
within the rampart of a noble fort. But round him 
were none but sleeping men. When he spurred them 
with his foot, they groaned, but moved not. With 
his sword he hacked the slender bridge till it fell 
hanging into the deep moat, a wasted thread of 
gossamer. 

Then, knowing that the foul enemy who had 
wrought this enchantment could not escape, he passed 
on, walking with drawn sword on the sweeping ram- 
part. 

He passed, seeing nought but sleeping men ; but 
when he came again to the high-lifted drawbridge, he 
saw in a door's deep shade a figure all clad in armour 
of grey steel. 

And a woman's voice hailed him — wondrous sweet, 
low, yet clear, commanding : 

" Ho ! watchman, what of the night ! " 

He knelt upon one knee and answered : — 

"Oh, armed lady, thy soldiers all sleep an en- 
chanted sleep. I crossed the bridge unhindered, and 
cut it down lest the worker of ill should escape." 

" I thank thee, noble knight," the lady answered ; 
"within and without my faithful servants sleep a 
sleep from which they cannot stir, and some, I fear, 
are dead. It is a drug which has caused this evil. I 
will watch at the window whilst thou walkest round 
and seest if aught come from without or within." 

The knight of La Mancha walked within the walls 
around the tower, and saw nothing save a rat peering 



An Unfinished Communication 145 

into the faces of the sleeping men. Him, the traitor, 
he pierced with his sword, and returning beneath the 
window, told how all were sleeping or dead within 
the walls. 

As he drew near the wondrous voice cried, 
" Ho ! watchman, what of the night ? " And 
from the steel-grey helmet of a mighty warrior the 
tender, fearless eyes looked out, and the pale, wistful 
face. Lo I all the place was hung with beauty as 
with a cloud. All through the night he paced round 
the keep, and once and again he cut the ropes and 
hooks with which the caitiff crowd without, who came 
when all seemed safe, tried to clamber up the silent 
walls. 

But the traitor within the walls was dead, and he, 
with mighty adoration of noble knight for noble lady, 
kept watch and guard. And the pale, wistful face, 
with golden hair — ^so pale and wan in the moonlight — 
was safe all through the long watches of the night. 
Seven times he spoke with her — seven holy words, 
seven noble, gracious words from those sweet lips of 
hers. Then the dawn slowly breaking, and the 
drowsy soldiers slowly staggering to their feet, he 
loosed the ropes that held the drawbridge up, and 
walked away, leaving the saved castle bathed ever 
more and more in the warm adoration of the rising 
sun. 

He found his steed, and mounting rode on ; and 
all the rest that Cervantes tells us is true. 

At last I was silent, and she lifted her eyes— eyes 
such as, looking on the world, transfigure it. Power 
and patience, tenderness and reverence. Had Odys- 
seus entered at that moment, entered beneath that 

ST. L 



146 An Unfinished Communication 

roof in his wanderings, I should not have been sur- 
prised, witnessing as I did her sudden and wondering 
awakening to a home — ^a home which the cottage 
walls and the little village had hidden from her, for I 
saw her pass within those palace walls which the 
great spirits of the past have built, making a habita- 
tion for souls like their own. To have heard my 
words any one might have imagined that I was read- 
ing pages out of a classical dictionary. But a soul 
discerns a soul : her soul stood trembling, apprehend- 
ing the world-soul. 

'' What is your real name ? " I asked. 

She unfastened a little locket she wore round her 
neck. It was of plain gold, and on it was traced in 
minute stones the word " Natalia.** Inside was a lock 
of dark hair. 

"Is this all yow know ?" 

" Yes," she answered, pointing to the old man as he 
slept ; " he took me for his own child when I was cast 
up by the sea. Mother was very kind to me, but she 
died long ago.** 

"Then you have no friends or relations of your 
own ? " I said. 

" I have no relations ; no one knows who I was or 
what my name was before he took me." 

And so it was. Old Jack would not talk about her, 
but I found in the village some in whose memories 
the very distant past of ten or twelve years ago was 
not obliterated, and they told me that after a stormy 
night the shore was strewn with fragments of a wreck, 
and Natalia was washed ashore, miraculously pre- 
served. The fishermen were not eager to make 
known their good fortune^ and took the obligation of 



An Unfinished Communication 147 

rearing the child as repayment on their part of the 
prodigal gifts of the sea^ making no inquiries and 
courting none. 

" Yes," one old woman said, " Nattie came from 
some foreign parts ; but she's been took real care of. 
She can sail a boat most as well as a man, and Jack 
would leave her his house and boat if he wasn't so 
much in debt" 

A period of gusty, uncertain weather set in that 
put a stop to all distant expeditions. But often be- 
tween the storms were hours of brightness. Natalia 
was my guide to many a place that her fancy had 
transfigured — and yet not transfigured, for her bright 
joy in the flowers, the little, paths that led between 
the hills, the haunts of the birds, and the spots where 
you could see shy, wild creatures at work or play, lent 
them nothing which was not rightly their own. Day 
by day she became less silent — asked me questions, 
and grew responsive to what I told her. The old 
man sat in his accustomed seat or mended his nets, 
while step by step she lived into the world as my poor 
account gave it her : the sea and the sky and I were 
present at that awakening of a mind. 

Outside the village, or ratlier the close-pressed 
group of huts, was a pathway with high palings on 
either side, made to keep off the drifting sand. I 
was walking along the little winding road at noon, 
when in front of me I heard the sound of a dispute. 
Natalia's clear voice rang out, " You shall not ! " I 
stepped round the corner in time to see a couple of 
the village lads threatening Natalia. She was facing 
me, with some tiny brown object clasped close to her. 
One of the lads lifted his arm to strike her, when 



148 An Unfinished Communication 

quick as a flash her hand darted out, and he was 
lying on his back — it was as effectual and as scientifi- 
cally delivered a blow as I had ever seen. The other 
fellow ran away right into my arms. I held him. 
She picked up the little creature she had let fall for a 
moment, and which appeared too injured to run. As 
she stepped past me she looked at the fellow I held 
with flashing eyes. The one who had fallen down 
slowly got up. " You are pretty cowards to try and 
strike a girl," I said. " She won't let us alone," he 
answered, " she takes our things away ; there ain't a 
chap here that ain't afraid of her." " You call pre- 
venting your killing squirrels taking your things, do 
you?" I said; "get off!" 

The lads slunk away. I could easily see that it 
was as they said ; if it came to a question of fighting 
none of them had a chance with that lightning celerity 
of hers. But what a life for a girl — a girl like Natalia 
— a spirit like hers to exhaust itself in a conflict with 
village cruelties ! Her face showed what she felt — 
and her blow. It was not a girl's part, but her in- 
dignation, her contempt, her tenderness moved her 
to it, and she did it effectually. She had nothing 
in common with these heavy fisher folk. Who was 
she ? — ^a singular, wild girl, living on the sands by the 
sea. But there are plenty of incongruous things — 
and what had it to do with me ? 

" Natalia," I said, when I returned, " I hope you do 
not often fight as you were doing to-day ? " 

" Why not ? " she asked. 

" It is very dangerous," I said. 

" Oh no," she replied, " they could never touch me. 
A stranger who came here told me the same as you 



An Unfinished Communication 149 

do, but when I told him how wicked the boys are, he 
saw it was necessary, and he taught me how to fight" 

" What did he teach you ? " I asked. 

In reply she let down a piece of cord which was 
fastened over one of the beams in the ceiling. It had 
a loop in it She stood in front, and hit out with her 
left hand. Her little hand went through the loop, 
which was only just large enough to let it pass, and 
back again so quickly that I could only see a gleam 
of white and a trembling in the air. 

" That is what he taught me to do," she said ; " it 
all depends on quickness and hitting exactly what 
you aim at." 

" But," I said, " you do not put much force into 
these blows." 

" No, of course when you are fighting you hit difTer- 
ently ; but I don't know much about it — only enough 
for here." 

" What was the stranger like ? " I asked ; " when 
Was he here ? " 

" I can't tell you what he was like. The first time 
he came was a year or more ago, but he was here 
again the day you came. He told me I must wait, 
for the time before he told me he would take me to 
my own father and mother." 

" But, Natalia," I said, " a woman as you are 
growing to be does not fight She tells a man what 
is wrong, and he goes and does the fighting for her. 
Her life has to do with different things." 

" But," she said, " if I set the boys fighting they 
throw stones, and two or three set on to one, and 
sometimes the one I want to win gets beaten. I 
think I had much better do it myself." 



ISO An Unfinished Communication 

The weather changed again. Fine day succeeded 
to fine day, and from the moment when the sun tinged 
the sea mists till he sank again in the unending plains 
of sand, the sky was full of light The blue sea lay 
like a jewel in its setting of dull gold — the sands so 
pale and wan to let their flashing playmate gleam 
the brighter. The clouds came sailing in from the 
ocean, their fairy fabrics laden with gifts of beauty 
drawn from the depths of the distant sky. 

Open and wide stretched the canopy of sky and 
cloud, and yet not open and wide enough, for just 
as some rare flower fills a woodland dell with its 
fragrant beauty, burning like a star, so all the stretch 
of sea and land and cloud gathered round Natalia, 
the darling of the sea whom it had saved, the foster- 
child of the patient land whom it had cherished well ; 
for who else had taught her that ineffable grace ? who 
else had breathed into her soul those premonitions of 
life's deep passion } who else had taught her to catch 
the thoughts of those high souls, whose words, faintly 
echoed, leave all unmoved the slumbering world? 
The courage of the storm, the grace of each pale 
flower of the strand that gives all its tender beauty 
to its arid spot of sand — all was hers ; and she moved 
breathing life and meaning into all around her. 

"Have you ever thought of going away from 
here?" I asked her. 

She looked through the little window, across the 
dull sand ; a stretch of the far-off sea was visible. 
Her eyes lighted up. 

" All that I have told you about the world," I con- 
tinued, "is not much like it; it is a place full of 
deceit, difficulty, and disappointment " 



An Unfinished Communication 151 

*' I am not afraid," she said. 

" Then you would go ? " 

" Yes." 

I expected to meet with opposition from the fisher- 
man, but he accepted the prospect with stolid in- 
difference. He merely stipulated that if Natalia went 
he must have some one in her place to look after the 
house and attend to his wants. I easily satisfied 
him. 

A few days passed — days of change in Natalia. 
She grew graver, but there was a quiet, suppressed 
joy in her face. In the evening she sat busy with her 
needle. 

"You need not work so hard," I said. "I have 
sent for a box of ordinary clothes, such as people 
wear in cities." 

"Why should you give me so much? What have 
I done for you ? what can I do ? " she said. 

" Listen, Natalia," I said, " I will tell you a story. 
Once there was a people who had become more 
highly civilised than anything we dream of. They 
lived long ago, when all the arts that have been 
forgotten, and which we are finding out again, 
lay within the knowledge of their wise men. They 
protected themselves from the heat of the sun and 
the rain of winter by a great glass roof, which went 
all over their city. They knew how to make food 
without using the land and things that grow. So 
they lived altogether, enclosed within the walls of 
their town and under the great roof, busied with arts 
and sciences. Now, the nations around waged war 
on them, but their knowledge was so great that 
they were invincible. Once in a combat they took 



152 An Unfinished Communication 

prisoner an Indian chief who was leading an attack 
on them. They did not put him to death or let him 
go» but kept him in their town. He was free to walk 
about, and the great men of the city were glad 
to see him in their houses, for he had been a great 
chief, and there was something noble about him. 
One day, going to the house of a high magistrate, he 
stood at the door, but did not enter. The magistrate 
came to the entrance of his hall, and said, ' I pray 
you come in.' * No,' said the Indian, * come out with 
me ' ; and taking the magistrate, he led him out of 
he city, beyond the walls, out from under the roof. 
It was spring-time, and all the flowers were blooming, 
and the birds were singing. The magistrate wondered, 
for, like all his fellow-citizens, he had never gone out 
beyond their artificial habitation, but had ever kept 
within the limits of what they had built for them- 
selves. When he returned he took others out with 
him, and showed them the face of Nature. In the 
centre of the town in after years, when he and the 
Indian were dead, there rose a great bronze statue — 
the statue of the Indian — and on the pediment was 
written, *To him who, having nothing, yet gave us the 
greater gift' It is something like that, Natalia, that 
you have done for me." 

" But how, when you know such wonderful things, 
can I do anything for you ? " 

" What good are they if I do not care for them } 
No, Natalia, it is better to give you a few clothes 
than to make a bronze statue to you, but besides I 
shall make a statue to you out of the bronze of my 
heart" 

She looked as if she were about to say something. 



An Unfinished Communication 153 

but kept silence, and something seemed to check her 
in her talk with me. Early in the morning she bade 
farewell to her friends of the village, gave one last 
look at all the familiar sights^ and we set out, walking 
together over the long waste of sand, with the sea far 
off on our right. " We can still see the cottage," I 
said. But she did not turn round. Her face was set 
steadily forward : and indeed we had a long walk 
before us, for we were going to meet the little steamer, 
the one means of communication between this remote 
region and the outer world. There was no time to 
linger. 

" You must send b€ick some things from the city to 
make your little friends remember you.'* 

" Yes,, I should like to do that" 

" Look at the sea^" I said ; " how it rises out of the 
blue arch yonder and holds its breath, till where it 
whispers its secrets in the sands." 

" Oh, do not look at the sea>" she said ; " it took 
away all those that loved me, and I am sure it will 
take away all that I shall ever love." 

We reached the little hamlet where the steamer 
touched, and presently, leaving its long line of smoke 
behind, it passed into the distance. 



CHAPTER IV 

No picture of solitude can be greater than that of the 
long, fading line which lingers still when the vessel 
that left it marked on the sky has vanished. The 
steamer was gone, bearing Natalia to her new life, 
carrying her to her destination. At last every vestige 
of the long, thin line had disappeared. I arose and 
turned, uncertain where to go. I wanted to see the 
place again where she had lived, to talk to some 
of the little fellows with whom she had talked so 
often, to hear their unconscious repetition of her 
words. I turned and walked by the sea. It was 
growing dusk; the tide was low. In that level, 
monotonous waste I guided myself as I walked by 
the dim meeting of land and water ; the rising wind 
blew chill. 

I had walked for an hour or so, when I thought 
I heard a cry ; it was like the musical cry with which 
she had hailed me — .it must have been about at the 
same place. I looked around ; there was no one there. 
Suddenly about my feet came the foam of a wave ; 
the wind whistled, all the sea was a sheet of foam. 

Trying to reach the dry land, I came on a treacherous 
place and sank up to my knees. I extricated myself 
with difficulty. Then, striving to remember the direc- 
tions she had given me, I began to retrace my steps. 
But the waves were upon me — ^waves such as one 
could not hope to swim through ; a storm was blow- 

154 



An Unfinished Communica&m 155 

ing, and all the sea was a sheet of foam. I struggled 
on for some distance, when all at (Mice the sand seemed 
to suck my feet down. I felt that I must make haste 
if I did not want to get into serious danger. Resting 
my body on the water, I freed my feet, and found my 
way to a firmer place. But, proceeding, the waves 
suddenly seemed to me higher. I had come to a 
depression in the sand, and at last one wave went 
over my head. 

For some seconds I held my breath, then I felt the 
air again, but at the moment I was breathing a long 
roll of foam came: my mouth was full of water. 
Choosing my time, I tried to get a breath from 
beyond the foam by leaping up . from the bottom, 
but I only gained momentary inhalations, and before 
long my breath refused to be controlled. Water — 
there was nothing but water ; it was in my tyts^ in 
my ears, over my head. But I became calmer, not 
more excited, fighting my way step by step, when I 
could find the ground in the direction in which I 
judged the shore lay. " This predicament," I thought, 
'' will be a good one to think about when I am safe 
by my own fireside in the evenings. It will make me 
relish safety and comfort." A larger wave;, which 
gathered without these awful foaming tops, lifted me 
up. I saw that I had been struggling along instead 
of inshore. Then it was all a period of confused 
gasps and determined struggles, I becoming all the 
while calmer and more sure of reaching the shore 
by steady swimming. I gave up trying to keep my 
head above. I trusted to chance, and swam steadily 
through the water, with a slow^ methodical stroke. I 
seemed to make hardly any exertion at all about it. 



156 An Unfinished Communication 

" How strange it is," I thought, " that I have not seen 
the boat that will rescue me, provided I cannot reach 
the shore myself." 

Then, perfectly plainly and clearly, though I knew 
I was struggling in the water, I heard my father's 
voice: "Come, old boy," he said, "and sit on my 
knee." I saw the fire burning, the tea-things were 
on the table. At that moment I felt the air again, 
gasped a great breath, then down — down. At my 
side I felt there was a little girl in black — ^yes, it was 
she, my sister ; we were following my brother to the 
grave. " So both of us are lost," I thought ; " poor 
mother, if she had known this was to be the end of 
all!" Then I became aware of the over-powering 
pressure of the water ; my body seemed to hang limp 
and flaccid. How do I know which is the direction 
of the land ? What is the use of struggling ? All I 
can do is to keep my mouth shut and trust to the 
waves throwing me on shore. 

My mother's hand was on my shoulder — I had my 
hat in my hand — there were crowds of people. I had 
on my new blue knickerbockers ; there was some dust 
on my shoes, as I sat down I wiped it off. There 
was a crowd of well-dressed persons — why, I was in 
church! But there was a dimness about, it all; in- 
stead of being there I was riding with my father in 
a car. There was an old horse with a big head toiling 
and toiling along outside the window, but always going 
backward. Then, as in a dream, I saw a downcast face 
— Gretchen's ; how I longed to know what the look on 
her face meant ! But the scene changed to a street in 
New York and a curious notice on a door. Then I 
was walking with Natalia — the steamer went and 



An Unfinished Communication 157 

then — why, here really I was drowning ! — the water 
deep, deep above me. " At any rate she will be with 
good friends," I thought ; ** she will be cared for ; " 
and I was thankful for my forethought Suddenly it 
came over me that this was what the unlearner meant, 
saying he would meet me here. And thinking thus, 
I, too, pass beyond life, awaiting, like all the others, 
what meets us there. 

1* ^F 3|C * ^F 

All the vagueness as of a dream passed away. 
I was actually with my father, sitting by his side. 
Through a window I saw a horse's head jogging up 
and down. The horse was trotting; I could see 
the motion of every step — yet it was going backward 
all the while. I asked my father — we sitting in the 
street car together — " Why does that horse go back- 
ward when he is going forward?" But my father 
wa3 reading his paper and did not answer me. I 
went on looking with amazement at the horse going 
backwards, though he was trotting on. Then my 
father said, " We'll get out here." The car stopped, 
and I saw with satisfaction the horse go on, dragging 
his load quite fast after him. 

:|e :|c :|e He 9K 

Then I find myself lying down, trying to go to sleep 
in the woods. I know Scotchy is near me, though I 
cannot see him. We call him Scotchy because he 
comes from Scotland ; he is at the technical school 
with me. There is no doubt about my being resdly 
with him, though it seems only a moment from the 
last scene. I know my father is dead and my 
mother is very poor; my uncle sends me money 
every month. Scotchy is lying wrapped up in his 



IS8 An Unfinished Communication 

thick cloak ; Fm in my waterproof blanket The 
sounds of the night woods are mysterious around us, 
full of a nameless influence. Out of them comes 
distinctly the noise of a larger animal moving. The 
footstep of the fox is of all sounds that I know the 
most tense upon the ear. The pit-pat of his footfalls 
comes so quick and regular, then it stops. I lie 
perfectly still, but the animal waits suspicious. Then 
he comes on again and stops. When he moves the 
footfalls come regularly,, mechanically ; then they 
stop absolutely, suddenly. I feel his readiness for 
sudden flight, for sudden spring also. In the dark 
stillness of the night I do not know what size I am, 
and there close beside me is fear and ferocity, chang- 
ing into one another so quickly. It might be a tiger, 
and I a hind. From nothing so quickly as from a 
footfall spreads Nature's contagion of fear or fury. 
At length in the silence I can bear it no longer. 

" Scotchy," I say, " are you asleep ? " 

" No." 

" Tell me something to break the silence." 

Scotchy says : " I will tell you about Anstruther, 
who was ruined in the bank failure ; all his people 
were ruined together ; there was no hope of recovery. 
He did not sit down to repine, but went into a 
foundry as an apprentice. He settled down, hoping 
to become a regular hand, getting, if he were lucky, 
in the course of time his two pounds a week. One 
day, as he was filing at his bench, a party of ladies 
and gentlemen came through the shop. When one 
of them was opposite his bench, she looked at him. 
It was the old look and the treasured smile. She 
put out her dainty gloved hand for him to shake, but 



An Unfinished Communication 159 

he could not take it in his oily hand. She said, ' I 
am so glad you are going bravely to work/ and then 
the party of visitors moved on. Soon after that there 
came a parcel to his lodgings. Opening it, he found — 
it was her writing — a little cylinder, a round, oblong 
piece of iron. It was quite plain and simple, accu- 
rately turned; but nothing, not designed for anything, 
except it might be a paper-weight So he used it 
for a paper-weight 

" But presently the piece of iron began to come in 
his dreams. It occurred persistently. She came, too, 
by flashes and gleams, seeming to point with mean- 
ing in her gesture to the round piece of iron. In his 
dream he took the cylinder in his hand, weighing it, 
and it seemed lighter than it should be if it were 
solid iron. Waking, he remembered his dream, and 
looked with interest at the iron keeping a few pieces 
of paper down. It was a simple object enough, yet 
night after night it came persistently, she always 
appearing, also bidding him do something, and point- 
ing to the piece of iron — ^she with her old smile, and 
a touch of new, winning, beseeching loveliness. At 
last, in his dream, he put the thing in a lathe, and 
turned the end off. Out of it, for it was hollow, 
began to drop rubies and pearls and precious stones 
of many kinds ; it was full of jewels, inestimable, 
rare jewels. Always with the jewels falling out his 
dream ended." 

^ Did he weigh the real paper-weight in his hand 
Scotchy ? " I asked. 

« Yes, he did." 

" Was it light ? " 

"Yes, it was." 



i6o An Unfinished Communication 

"Did he turn the end off?" 

"No, he knew the workman who made it had 
cored it out with sand ; he saw them every day at 
the works putting a core of sand inside their coating 
to save metaL" 

" Is there any ending to the story ? " 

** Yes, — he did not see her ever again." 

:|e 4e 4: :|c He 

I pass suddenly and vividly into another night. 
I am sitting with my arm round Nellie's waist, 
her head is leaning against my shoulder; some- 
times I pass my other hand through her long hair, 
sometimes I press her face to mine. In the New 
England* village where my mother and I are 
living all the people are engaged in making boots. 
I am talking about my prospects. I was living at 
home because my uncle had fallen into difficulties, 
and could send me no more money. " Nellie," I say, 
" I will get a place in the factory ; then we can get a 
cottage of our own," 

"Yes, Teddie," she says, "father can get you a 
place where he's foreman " 

" Oh 1 I shan't go there, because I'm going to be 
foreman myself, and I won't turn him out" 

" Brave, kind Teddie, it won't turn father out, will 
it ? " she says. 

Then the clock strikes one, and she lets me out. 
That evening is followed by other evenings, and all 
alike are filled with the delicious clasp of her soft 
waist, till one evening I say, " I'm not going to be a 
shoemaker all my life," and she bids me good-bye at 
two o'clock, crying and sobbing. 

He H: He 3|e 3|e 



An Unfinished Communication l6i 

I find myself in a little room. It is a lodging ; I 
know it well. My clothes are all torn, and there is 
rage in my heart, for a farmer in New Jersey set his 
dog at me when I only tried to sell him a book. On 
my table is a letter ; I take it up. My mother writes 
to tell me Nellie is married ; she breaks it to me 
gently, but I know she is glad ; she never liked 
Nellie. 

He !|c ♦ 9|( 9fe 

I am sitting in a room upstairs ; it is a large, well- 
lighted room, with book-shelves all around. I know 
that I am in Cambridge, living with my mother in a 
house that we have taken, while I go to the Univer- 
sity. A brother of my father's has left us all his 
money. Much of my time I spend with my mother, 
the rest over my books. There is a kind of differ- 
ence and aloofness I feel with the other boys. I am 
just opening a great parcel, reflecting that it is better 
to buy books than to try and sell them. I have no 
friend like Scotchy ; I am wishing that I had. 



It is a dark, cloudy night, in which but a little space 
overhead the beams of the street lamps are lost. I 
am stepping briskly along, carrying a cane. The 
pavement seems elastic, a breeze sweeps up from 
Central Park, while in my ears floats the music I 
have just heard, changing itself into scenes and the 
rapid passing of figures. Before me are the spacious 
courts of heaven, wide with the width of a sunny 
landscape, gleaming with the white illumination of 
marble. Across the great court comes a heavenly 
messenger, a boy, bearing on his candid lips a mes- 

ST. M 



1 62 An Unfinished Communication 

sage. Two of the blest souls who were sitting there, 
speaking on some high theme, look up when he ap- 
proaches. The one is St Paul, the other I know is 
St Simeon Stylites. For his sake the tide of high 
argument breaks and repeats itself. Beneath the 
heavenly peace of St Paul's grand face you still can 
see the trace of his spiritual wrestling, the marks of 
the intellectual athlete, the all-encompassing, domi- 
nating mind. The far-reaching vision St Paul was 
explaining to him had occupied the whole of St 
Simeon's attention, and the puzzled, almost anxious, 
look on his face as he raised it towards the messenger 
reminded one, though it was heaven, of what his 
look on earth must have been. 

"There is some one come to be judged," said the 
boy, " a woman." 

" Who is she ? " asked St Paul. " What does St 
Peter say ? " 

" St Peter," the messenger replied, " does not know 
anything about her, she did not come that way." 

" Then she is not a mortal ; Simeon, shall we see 
her?" 

" What is she like ? " asked St. Simeon. 

" I cannot tell," said the heavenly messenger; "she 
is covered all over and hides her face. She bears a 
bundle in her arms." 

" I think," said St Simeon, " we can judge her, 
Paul; it seems to be some penitent; to veil her 
face is good." 

A figure drew near with a mean robe flung all 
about her, and in her arms a great bundle. But her 
walk was as the walk of a humbled queen, and in her 
voice there was the ripple of the waters, the sighing 



An Unfinished Communication 163 

of the winds, the song of the birds, as she prayed, 
"Judge me, I have stolen these." 

" Tis well," said St. Paul, " that thou bringest them 
back. What are they ? " 

She stooped, rested the bundle on heaven's floor, 
and opened it The mean, worn covering was folded 
back, and there was nothing and yet everything — 
everything that men have seen of colour in the sunset 
or in the deep sky. There were the grace of the 
dappled limbs of the fawn, the lines of strength of 
the tiger, the wonderful green of the forests, the all- 
burying forests in their wonderful mazes, the delicate 
blue of the distance, the depths of the ocean, the 
semblance and likeness of everything there has been 
on earth. There, without the substance and body of 
them, were the grace and beauty of human coun- 
tenances, the bloom on the cheeks, the vermeil lips, 
the glance of loving, passionate, ardent, alluring eyes, 
and the quiet, long, still gaze of dark eyes. There 
was the glamour and grace and beauty of all that 
man has ever loved to gaze upon — the tendril- 
crowned boy Bacchus, in his radiant appeal to the 
eye, was there, though he was not There were the 
flash of white limbs through translucent water, the 
raised arms of Venus, her head waving like a flower 
between them. All was there ; not the substance of 
things, but the show of them — all colour, all sights ; 
and the wonderful-voiced woman spoke. Her speak- 
ing was like a song, like all the music that ever 
sounded, like all the sounds that ever were, so rich 
and full and deep it was— calming, soothing; passion- 
arousing, awakening, mocking, loving, enticing — ^the 
cadence of wind-swept forests, the laughing of a girl 



164 An Unfinished Communication 

all were in it as she said, "All these are not mine, 
and I have taken them, all the sounds of my voice, 
and these I have brought here. Henceforth I will be 
mute and without all these. Oh, judge me." 

St Simeon hid his face in his hands, for he had 
never thought to see that in heaven which he had 
avoided as much as in him lay on earth. But St. Paul, 
the ardent tent-maker, the endurer of toils, familiar 
with many climes and men, looked at the mingled 
show of the wonderful bundle, awake, alert, and ready 
to inquire how the question that arose should be 
settled in accordance with his system. He did not 
listen to St. Simeon, who exclaimed, with still averted 
eyes, " Thrice happy man I Oh, cast all down into 
the deepest hell, that, there being no more of those 
on earth, men may save their souls." 

But asked wherefore, these being not hers, she still 
had taken them, bedecked herselif with them, " It was 
mine," she answered, ''at the creation to keep the 
busy atoms dancing, to turn and twist them on their 
moving course, playing the shuttle of vibrations in all 
the system. But men wove robes and garments, in- 
venting light and colour, placing light and colour 
and sound before me. They praised me, calling me 
Nature and wonderful, beautiful. I, because I liked 
their praise, put on these robes that were none of 
mine, making pretence to be as they would care to 
see me; all that you see I put on, feigning to be 
what men praised — I, who all the while have no part 
in any of these things, whose it is to move the atoms 
on their ceaseless wheeling." 

St Paul was silent, not for the moment discerning 
how the law and sin bore on all this, when the 



An Unfinished Communication 165 

greater light of a Presence made them know that 
another was there. 

For thus it is in heaven, if perplexity or doubt 
assail any of the blest spirits, such is the order of 
that happy world, the higher spirits there, that dwell 
in greater illumination and glory of light, reveal 
themselves, and at their words all lies plain and 
clear. 

To Nature standing suppliant there, begging for 
judgment and peace, with all that made her fair in 
man's eyes surrendered by her, the Judge of all 
spoke : — 

" Child, know that, because thou caredst for man's 
praise, there is that in thee wherewith thou canst be 
to him all he longs for. Leave here these feigned 
garments and the voice he has lent thee ; go thy way, 
be to him as thy awakening heart tells thee." 

Nature turned and went. On earth a new day 
began. The light of dawn, the sunset of even, no 
longer were what man put on her, but were of Nature's 
own. In all the visible world, in all the joys and 
beauties of the earth, she began to be herself, not 
clothed in the feigned robes she wore before, in 
which, because man had woven them, there was of 
his evil. 

In that new day no more was there deception in 
the joys men clasped, no longer did the glamour hide 
an emptiness within, no rose fell crumbling and 
withered the moment man pressed it to his lips. 
No longer in all his joys did man perpetually grasp 
his own imaginations and beyond them — emptiness ; 
no longer did he chase the mask of pleasure for its 
own sake, seeking but himself. For behind all joys, 



i66 An Unfinished Communication 

all delights, was she filling his soul more full of her, 
there herself squandering each hour more pleasures 
than he had ever dreamed of, each almost unmarked, 
each lost and overwhelmed in the imfolding glory 
of her awakening heart. 

**Wtxy pretty, white limbs flashing through the 
water is good," says a voice by my ear. 

There by my side is my intimate friend, whom I 
know better than I do any one else. 

" It has nothing to do with you. I was thinking 
of an escape from you," I say. 

'* And so you made a pretty picture to please me. 
Lord, what a time we would have in that renovated 
world ! " 

And the creature puts out his tongue, licking like an 
animal licks round its chops — a perfectly beast-like, 
unconscious gesture — ^then he goes a step or two 
ahead, wheels round and faces me. 

" Foul brute, shall I never escape you ? " 

^ You don't want to/' he says, with an insinuating 
grin on his animal countenance. 

"Keep your place at any rate. I have thoughts 
you have nothing to do with: you touch and influence 
me but by a corner of myself" 

" We won't quarrel about that," he says. " We are 
old friends, you know, and you are always thinking 
about me, really, however much you may seem to go 
after other things." 

He is still standing opposite me. I look straight 
in his face — a thing I seldom do — looking at him 
searchingly, inquiringly. 

" Ah ! but I remember you different," I say, as I 
look, " or rather there were two of you, who came 



An Unfinished Communication 167 

to toe together; you, yes, but you were different 
when the other was with you, you were different. 
He had so quiet and intense a look on his uplifted 
face, it was as if he saw an angel I knew you both, 
when I felt the heavenly wonder that Nellie should 
speak to me the day we met outside her father's gate/' 

The low face of the creature before me looks per- 
plexed and troubled, as if some human feeling could 
penetrate him too. "Yes," he says, "there were two 
of us, but he hadn't my vitality." Then, with a leer, 
he adds, " Come with me ; I am left you." 

"To heel, dog!" I say, and he comes crouching after 
me. As I walk, I see one and another of his kind 
following or arm in arm with men like myself, and I 
know that the city is full of them. There comes by 
a wretched man in rags, blear-eyed, his intimate be- 
side him, so distorted and deformed, I wonder he 
can crawl. The two are quarrelling. I hear the 
man say, " YouVe brought me to this, have you ? but 
see what a fine thing I've made of you." 

I turn to him who is following me, saying, " I, 
calm-lipped, self-controlled, can let all pass wherein 
you live. I belong to that band which strive for 
objects you know nothing of." 

" Making yourself endlessly wretched," he returns. 
" You know you have no joy in life save for me, and 
all you think or do is to give me pleasure." 

" It is not so," I say. But he is close to me ; he 
takes my arm familiarly; I know I shall never be 

rid of him, and do not want to. 

***** 

" A singular talent you have for making inappro- 
priate observations," says Paget in his drawling voice ; 



i68 An Unfinished Communication 

" I know them well The worthy pair of burghers 
you have just pointed out as living a simple, patri- 
archal life have just signed an agreement for their 
simple Gretchen, whom you appreciate so highly, at 
Hoffner's Colosseum. Their other girl was a great 
disappointment to them, she went lame; but they 
count on this one." 

I do not doubt Paget. He employs his leisure, 
which is ample, in the study of the personnel of the 
Viennese music halls, but I cannot help remarking: 
" A pure, innocent girl like that ! It is impossible that 
they mean to give her over to that life." 

"They know what they are about They have 
been very careful of her ; it is faces like that which 
are most charmingly provocative in the right setting ; 
they lose their value if they begin too young. Come 
over; I'll introduce you." 

We join the trio. The man looks like a respectable 
sub-official in a Government department But he has 
no reserve in discussing his daughter's engagement 
with my friend. Gretchen sits silent, her eyes cast 
down. It is a pretty, simple face, fresh and charm- 
ing. 

" Madam," I say suddenly, addressing the mother, 

" cannot you keep your daughter from that place ? " 

She looks at me offended. I am aware of a look of 

amusement in Paget's eyes. But in Gretchen's, what is 

it ? She glances at me, and in that glance there is 

something which moves me strangely. What is it, 

appeal, gratitude, interest? But her eyes are cast 

down again before I can read anything for certain. 
* -K- * * * 

Into my room comes Paget " Here's the old fox's 



An Unfinished Communication 169 

answer to your proposal ; he says he won't accept 
any assistance from you to help Gretchen to study 
for a different branch of the profession ; and he won't 
take a sum to enable her to marry. He considers she 
has good and honourable prospects in the line he has 
chosen for her, and he requests you not to see them 
again, unless you will marry her. He's got an 
idea—" 

" No more of this," I say. " I should be glad to 
discontinue our acquaintance in future." A feeling of 
repulsion against these traffickers in maiden innocence 
and modesty, and against Paget, who had become 
callous to this kind of thing, comes over me. Gret- 
chen's look is in my eyes — it is appeal, yes, it is 
a desperate appeal. Paget stands still a moment, 
then he says, " All right," and goes away. I remain 
standing — Gretchen my wife ! If so, what a horror 
it would be that she should remain a moment in 
her present surroundings I 

}|c He ale :ic 9ic 

It is my home — this room I find myself in with 
the fire burning brightly — there Gretchen sitting 
opposite, looking at it, like me. Her face is an 
enigma to me still ; she does not care to speak in 
English, and my German does not interest her. All 
at once, as I am watching her, I hear a voice speak- 
ing to her. It is he— that other part of myself that I 
call my friend. 

" Gretchen," I say, " it was not I who spoke to you 
just now." 

•* There is no one else here." 

" Do you think that was I myself ? " 

" Yes, of course." 



170 An Unfinished Comfnunieation 

"Gretchen," I exclaim, '^ it was to safve you from 
sQch as he that I married you.'' 

'* Ich verstehe nicht was du meinest — Liebst du 
iriich nicht ? " 

** Why, Gretchen, don't you know the kind of love 
I love you with ? I love your happiness, your good, 
first of all ; I would have done anything to make 
you happy. If it would have made you happy you 
should have had any money you liked without 
me. 

Her eyes gleam for a moment with a happiness, 
a gleam as of an imagined happiness, such as I had 
never seen them shine with before. Then she turns 
to me and says: ''Ach! scherze doch nicht. Die 
Manner sind alle gleich." 

The sudden illumination of her face brings it home 
to me ; I might have known it any moment before. 
There was a young actor whom I had sometimes 
seen at her parents' house — it was he whom she loved. 
She had married me, as she would have danced before 
the footlights, because she must get money. 

And I know that this friend, this part of me, had 
fooled me ; it was he who had directed every move 
that led me to my marriage, when I thought my 
motives were so different You can blame me, you 
who have never been fooled by this Pan creature, who 
weaves the exhalations of earth into the shapes he 
wills, who assumes the garb of pity, duty, sacrifice, 
speaks in the name of utility, common sense, sanctity, 
and whatever he finds will gain his ends. 

In a moment I know I am to Gretchen but the 
man who bought her, deprived her of that spark of 
love at which she warmed her little hands, which 



>, 



An Unfinished Communication 171 

might have become a flame and irradiated her whole 
life. 

There are moments when you realize how absolutely 
true all your friends say of you is, how false is the 
impression of yourself you have been living under. 
I know that the reasons my acquaintances assigned 
for my marriage were the true ones. Gretchen was 
a simple little beauty whose charms would certainly 
have made her a success in her destined profession. 
Because she had looked at me as a girl cannot help 
looking at a man who takes an interest in her — no, 
because my friend had led me, had taken possession 
of me, I had married her ; had very likely spoiled 
her life too, for she had conceived the idea that, be- 
cause she gave up the man she fancied, she would 

have every luxury money could give her. 

***** 

" Now he's putting his frills on," says Adela 
Stephenson. 

Opposite her is sitting her husband, my old friend 
Scotchy, concocting in an impressive manner in the 
tin brazier a welsh rabbit of his own invention, in 
which bananas replace the cheese. 

"He must be a great assistance to you, Mrs. 
Stephenson." 

" Oh, he is." 

" I think," said Stephenson, " we might have sherry " 
—he is evidently deliberating with what fluid he could 
replace beer. 

" I think I said sherry," he repeated, looking at her. 

** It is in the cupboard," she replied, with an osten- 
tatiously unconcerned air. 

With the air of a martyr he gets up, finds the 



172 An Unfinished Communication 

sherry, pours in a glassful, and proceeds with his 
stirring. 

'* If anything gets very desperate/' says Adela, con-? 
tinning her conversation with me, '^I call him in. 
Louie was desperately naughty yesterday ; she's his 
niece, not mine, so I told him he must punish her. I 
had punished her enough myself, for she always says 
something to make me feel mean when I punish her, 
and I felt very small, for she had been very naughty. 
So Robert said he would punish her. I told him she 
would say something to make him feel small, but he 
was nobly willing. He told her she was to go without 
her orange for a week at breakfast — she always has 
one. She said, * Many children don't have an orange 
ever.' I don't think he was a bit more successful in 
his punishments than I was." 

Walking away, I reflect that, because of me, 
Gretchen will never tell any one he's putting his frills 
on, or its equivalent in German. It doesn't do me 
good, seeing the little nook Stephenson lives in. 
What do I care for all the aims or institutions of 
men > Those with whom I would join, in a desire for 
rational good, what do they do but push me down into 
the void and emptiness of my union with Gretchen ? 
All good objects and good people — much more likely 
I care for bad objects and people : they at least pro- 
mise me freedom. What good did all that ever I 
learned do me ? It is all barren words, artificial, all a 
sham, making me so that I cannot know a sham from 
a true thing, even when it is myself. I catch sight 
of a notice with a curious word on it It is the board 

with " Unlearner " written on it. I approach. 
* * * 4«- * 



An Unfinished Communication 173 

. . • I see the look in Natalia's eyes as she 
listens, see the cottage walls recede as she lives in 
the palace-home the poets have made for such as 
she. 

»fh #% ^j* *f* *l* 

. . . The last thread of smoke has vanished ; 
how long it hung suspended in the air ! The very 
last sign and token of her now gone, and solitude 
enfolding from the air, the sky, the sea wrapping in 
folds and folds upon my heart. 

He 3K He He :ic 

. . . The waves are over me ; I lie moving in 
the rushing waters, a sodden, inert mass. My meagre 
existence is over ; nothing achieved, nothing done ; 
empty, worthless. Was it worth while that my 
father and mother should have tended me, loved 
me, cherished me, for this ? The bright dewdrops of 
the spring of life shone ; how different from this I 
thought I was, but it is over now. 

•X- He ^ He He 

Stay, what is this sudden surprise ? Just as truly 
as I am lying here, rising and sinking with the heave 
of the waters, so I am in each of the scenes and 
places I have ever been in, living and acting in them. 
It has been coming over me in scenes which I thought 
were vivid memories, but now I know they are actual 
presences. I am a child again with other children. 
I see my father : each step, each act, each little thing, 
I go through again, living the very life I lived before. 
I am a man with other men and women. I am moving, 
speaking with them, and they with each other — not 
only I, but all are living as they ever lived. My 
*whole life has become to me as my body was in the 



174 -^^ Unfinished Communication 

life just finished. In any part of my life I can be with 
whomsoever I will : I walk with my little sister, I 
talk with Scotchy. But an oppressive bond is on me ; 
I do exactly the same things I did before ; I say 
the same things. I cannot get out of the chain 'of 
events ; cannot say, '' How strange it is, Scotchy, that 
I should have died, and yet you and I be talking 
here 1 " Yet though the bond — ^the fetter of unalter- 
ability — is on me, all feeling of loss and of the irre- 
vocable passes away, for all are here ; once together I 
know for ever together. 

But watching closely with so eager a curiosity, I 
see that each of us is not doing exactly the same-^ 
and see, our lives are altering. 

And a new consciousness comes over me. I see 
that, like everything else in Nature, our lives are 
altering, developing, our whole lives in every event 
and circumstance. I see my life suddenly trans- 
formed from the pitiful thing it is. I see that it is 
changing — ^the whole of it. It is the body of a higher 
will, changing, moving, altering in a new direction 
wherein death does not lie. 'Tis life, indeed, for 
what may not my life become ? I feel that sudden 
touch which Nature lays on all those that die, saying 
to them, ** Know ! I am ever changing, altering. 
With me everything is in a state and stage of de- 
velopment I allow not anything to be cast in a 
rigid mould, not even thy past life in thy imagina- 
tion." 

And the will that acts along the whole line, the will 
whose body is the whole life — that I catch, fragment- 
arily present here and there in my life — ^that will, 
shown, not in great things, but in oiinute, almost 



An Unfinished Communication 175 

invisible changes, that will is what I prize and treasure, 
for it is the means whereby my life alters, the means 
by which it is what it has become. 

But I long to pass from this wide consciousness ; 
for, while I have it, I am not in the work of altering 
my life. To do that I must give up this wide view, 
and, plunging in it part by part, let all else of my life 
save the present seem like mere memory or expec- 
tation. 

To this I pass; Meanwhile I see that once I did 
not fall into my error, and again I shall not From 
one state to another I proceed, and in my life, as 
it now is, I welcome all its life-long burdens as a 
step upon the way, the necessary attendants upon 
a progression. My aversion to all the piled-up 
fabric of human thought, level with the clouds, reach- 
ing the foundations of the earth, I understand it well ; 
was not Natalia hidden from me; then? For all 
thought, all questioning of the unseen, is but a step 
towards her whose soul moves with ours ; all is 
unable to be. understood by those incapable of love. 
Well did Dante picture wisdom as, for him, the light 
of the countenance of her who spelt her name really 
and actually with a B and E. The cold, keen blade of 
the intellect is beaten from tbQ sorrows of lives on 
lives, It is only as life after life— each differing 
from the last in virtue of the will> that has the whole 
of life for its body— that we in life can picture our 
true destiny. 

And in this brief vision betwee^n life and lifQ^ in 
which the soul sees how from life to life events mould 
and shape themselves, I see that my life has not 
ever been as it was in this one course* All is 



176 An Unfinished Communication 

slowly altering from life to life, and in my higher 
consciousness I see wherefrom, whereunto it moulds 
itself. I see how each little thing is different, and 
how in just this, that now I have lived, I grasp the 
realized results of ages of the higher transverse 
growth. Once I did not turn back, when the steamer 
took Natalia on its evanescent water-path, but went 
with her, leading her to a life which her intolerant 
spirit could not brook. I know that once I held her 
hand in death, and she, unmoved by life's failure, 
turned to me and smiled a look of hope. That lives 
within me, and I feel that horror of betraying her 
noble innocence, which is all that remains in life's 
consciousness of the ghastly ruins of an error in the 
past. Now I know that I have attained, attained so 
much as makes me nearer, many a step nearer, to my 
life with Natalia ; for it is only in the world-regard in 
the care for all life that souls can walk together 
perfectly, and only so now will Natalia and I walk 
together. And we shall walk together. Were it not 
so, I would not tell you this. For we ourselves are 
larger than the limited life we think is all, and that 
most holy union of soul and soul, not in one of our 
fleeting lives, not in many, is it attained. The great 
personal ends of the world pass over fleeting 
lives and lives, each life giving us that task which, 
unless done faithfully, is an inseparable barrier, which, 
accomplished, is a step. And maybe for a period, 
as I pass again and again in life through the 
changes that we in life's concentration think are all, 
I may not see Natalia. But I know she awaits me. 
How long it will be I know not, but each moment of 
silent earnestness, each trace df that great will which 



An Unfinished Communication 177 

alters all, in all my life, I prize and worship, for it 
brings me nearer her. 

And Gretchen, too, I see her growing — feel that 
the refusal to bend her instinct of love to time 
and circumstance is slowly awakening, will gather 
strength, and sometime she will not be the creature 
of her parents' wish. 

Behind the visions of my unfinished, ended life, I 
see the figure of the Unlearner, not standing as he 
did that day upon the sands, but receding, be- 
coming larger, more and more remote, till he is like 
that space which lies beyond aught we can ever think 
of, and he seems to say : '* Thou shalt attain at last, 
but so much must first be done." 



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«*a>^M.— ^»rfk- 



HuUer & Tanner, The Sclwood Printing \^orics, Frone, and London. 



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